Med Salim scored seven points in the clutch to lead the National University Bulldogs to a 72-68 win over the Emilio Aguinaldo Generals to clinch a quarterfinals berth in the 2016 FilOil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup Sunday morning in San Juan City.
Salim finished the game with 13 markers on 6-for-9 shooting and knocked down a clutch triple in the final frame. Former Batang Gilas standout Chino Mosqueda added 11 markers while sixth man Rev Diputado scored ten points on a perfect shooting clip, grabbed four boards, and dished out four assists.
“We are very happy with how Med responded. He brought us back in the second half,” NU head coach Eric Altamirano said about the third year big man. “We are encouraging him to shoot from the outside. He has to be confident with that shot.”
The Bulldogs offense struggled in the first half especially on the boards. Even with former UAAP Finals MVP Alfred Aroga back in the lineup, the Generals, behind Hamadou Laminou’s nine first half rebounds, greatly outrebounded the Bulldogs 31-18 that led to a 10-0 second chance points advantage as EAC held a 38-27 halftime lead.
“We didn’t start well. We played really bad during the first half. We didn’t do a good job defensively. They had 13 offensive rebounds,” Altamirano rued. “In the second half, we limited them to just three and eventually natalo na lang ng one rebound.”
Behind Reggie Morido and Dave Yu, the Jhocson Street cagers were able to slowly chip the EAC lead in the third frame. Free throws by JV Gallego with 30 ticks remaining in the quarter gave NU its first taste of the lead, 52-51.
The Bulldogs carried the momentum they gained in the third frame into the fourth quarter in an 8-2 rally behind Mosqueda and Diputado for a 62-55 lead with 6:28 remaining. However, EAC responded with a rally of their own sparked by a pull-up three courtesy of Francis Munsayac to cut the lead to just two, 62-64, with 4:37 remaining.
Salim knocked down a triple to stop the bleeding but was answered right back by Munsayac. After a long jumper by Aroga, the former Chiang Kai Shek standout drove to the lane for a tough layup that gave the Bulldogs a six point cushion with 1:33 remaining. A triple by Raymond Pascua would be the last field goal scored by the Generals while a free throw by Gallego sealed the win for the Bulldogs.
Munsayac led the Generals with 14 points and eight boards. He was able to knock down four triples but was just 5-for-11 from the field. Laminou notched a double-double with 11 points and 15 rebounds.
The Generals were missing the services of Igee King and Jorem Morada for the game.
The Bulldogs (A, 4-1) will next face the UP Fighting Maroons in their penultimate game in the elimination round on Thursday, June 2 at 11:15am. The EAC Generals (A, 1-5), already eliminated in the tournament, will face the FEU Tamaraws on Friday, June 3 at 11:15am.
NU (72) – Salim 13, Mosqueda 11, Diputado 10, Gallego 7, Morido 6, Go 6, Aroga 5, Yu 5, Aquino 4, Abatayo 3, Labing-isa 2, Salem 0, Lastimosa 0, Cauilan 0.
EAC (68) – Munsayac 14, Laminou 11, Onwubere 10, Guzman 8, Pascua 7, Corilla 6, Mendoza 4, Aguas 4, Diego 3, Neri 1, General 0.
Quarterscores: 13-24, 27-38, 54-53, 72-68.