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Sumang-less Warriors suffocate sloppy Bulldogs

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With their marquee offensive threat Roi Sumang benched for missing practice, the Red Warriors’ hopes rested on their 2nd-ranked defence. The defence delivered in style, manhandling the National University Bulldogs en route to a comfortable 64-55 decision. The Warriors’ frenetic full court press shackled the Bulldogs to a dismal 31% clip from the field, and generated a staggering 26 turnovers. Charles Mammie backed up his team’s iron-willed defensive stand with an overpowering 22 points and 10 rebounds. The disappointed Bulldogs were led by point guard Gelo Alolino, who scored 13 points and notched 7 assists. The Warriors’ crucial win elevates them to a 6-5 record, within striking distance of the fourth and final playoff spot, held by the now 7-4 NU. UE’s shock victory is their first over a team with a winning record this season, and gives them an injection of confidence heading into the final stretch of games.

The battle between the league’s best defensive units was predictably a low-scoring affair. Both teams struggled to gain any traction in the first half, combining for 24% shooting, 22 turnovers and a snooze-inducing 19-15 halftime score-line in favour of UE. With Sumang sitting out the match as punishment for an unannounced training absence, hulking big man Charles Mammie carried UE’s offensive cudgels. His 8 points at the half led all scorers. The Warriors cranked up the defensive intensity in the second half, as their trademark press produced 10 take-aways in the quarter alone. This allowed surging UE to carve out an 8-point advantage heading into the final period, an advantage that NU would not be able to overcome. The Bulldogs were given a lifeline early in the fourth quarter, as Nico Javelona and Gelo Alolino sank back-to-back treys in a quick 8-0 run that trimmed the UE cushion to a solitary point. The Warriors responded with a 12-5 run capped by lanky forward RR De Leon’s triple to push their lead back to 9 and force a Bulldogs time-out. With only a 1:10 left for NU’s comeback attempt, Charles Mammie iced the game with a ferocious two-handed slam, forcing NU head man Eric Altamirano to sue for time once more. The raucous UE crowd promptly serenaded the NU cheering section with a hearty of cheers of “Uwian na! Uwian na!”. In the end, the 11-point margin proved too difficult to manage for NU, and a procession of UE free-throws rounded out the scoring.

The Red Warriors received solid contributions from key rotation cogs Paul Varilla, Gino Jumao-os, and Chris Javier, who all finished with 8 points. Their production was enough to offset the poor play of Roi Sumang’s replacements Dan Alberto and Edgar Charcos. The two ball-handlers could only muster 6 points on 1/8 shooting, along with a lone assist, between the two of them. UE fans can only hope these two improve their standard of play, because UE Head Coach Derrick Pumaren implied that superstar Sumang may be facing a lengthy stay on the pine. Asked whether Sumang’s discipline would extend to the choice matchup between UE and league-leaders FEU, Pumaren said, “I have to sit with UE management with regards to that”. When Sumang himself was pressed for comment, he simply answered with, “Ako na naman, hindi nga ako naglaro”. Troy Rosario put up a near double-double for the Bulldogs, scoring 12 points, albeit on mediocre 38% shooting, and hauling in 9 caroms. Nico Javelona nailed 2/3 of long-range attempts on the way to 9 points and a surprising 9 rebounds. Alfred Aroga, coming off an eye-popping 15 point, 11 rebound and 8 block performance against the ADMU Blue Eagles, could only manage 3 points on 1/6 shooting, along with 4 boards and a block, in 26 minutes of substandard play.

 

 

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