After a close three quarters, the National University Bulldogs were able to get their bearings together in the final frame and displayed fluid clutch defense to eliminate the Adamson University Soaring Falcons, 65-57, Tuesday afternoon at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
Med Salim led the Bulldogs with 12 points on 4-for-6 shooting from the field and 3-for-5 shooting from the stripe. Alfred Aroga added ten points but was just limited to a single rebound in 22 minutes of action.
“I have to give it to that Adamson team. That’s a completely different team,” NU head coach Eric Altamirano said. “Grabe! They are going to be a different team come the UAAP season. Credit to Coach Franz for turning that team around.”
The game was a highly-competitive contest that saw a total of nine deadlocks and 15 lead changes. Moreover, it was back to zero entering the final frame as both teams were tied at 43-all.
After a floater by sparkplug point guard Jordan Cadua, the Bulldogs went on an 11-2 rally sparked by five straight points by Salim coming from finds by Chino Mosqueda and capped by a highlight play that saw Mosqueda find Salim who ten found a wide-open Niko Abatayo underneath that gave the Bulldogs the biggest lead of the game, 56-49, with 4:13 remaining.
Rev Diputado, who was the designated floor general, gave quality minutes on both ends to close out the game. Diputado scored all nine of his points in the final quarter while completely shutting down the backcourt of Harold Ng, limited to just five points on 2-for-6 shooting, and Robbie Manalang, who went a horrid 0-for-9 from the field.
“He was the leader out there, calling the plays, attacking the basket, and, more than that, yung defense niya,” Altamirano said about Diputado. “I think yung mga perimeter guys ng Adamson are dangerous. I think that was the key to the game.”
Papi Sarr tried to lift his team on his shoulders to close-out the game but misses by Jerrick Ahanmisi and James Pasturan booked NU’s ticket to the semifinals.
“More than anything, magandang experience for us to enter the semis,” the NU mentor said. “Playing high-level teams like San Beda or Arellano is quite an experience for a young team like ours.”
Sarr led the Soaring Falcons with 11 points and 12 boards. JD Tungcab added ten markers in the loss. National U was able to limit Adamson to just a horrid 28 percent from the field.
The NU Bulldogs will next face the winner of the San Beda-Arellano tilt on Friday, June 10 at 2:00pm.
NU (65) – Salim 12, Aroga 10, Diputado 9, Salem 8, Abatayo 6, Mosqueda 4, Yu 4, Morido 3, Labing-isa 3, Aquino 2, Gallego 2, Cauilan 2, Go 0, Lastimosa 0.
AdU (57) – Sarr 11, Tungcab 10, Ahanmisi 7, Paranada 6, Ng 5, Manganti 4, Espeleta 4, Pasturan 3, Camacho 2, Bernardo 2, Cadua 2, Manalang 1, Ochea 0.
Quarterscores: 13-17, 27-26, 43-43, 65-57.