Since joining the UAAP in 1952, the University of the East Red Warriors have never figured in a one-win season. But the one-and-done Troy Rike made sure to hand them that in his final game in the UAAP.
Rike saved his best for last, leading the National University Bulldogs to a 79-71 victory over the hapless Red Warriors, to end their season on a high note, Sunday afternoon at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
The Filipino-American forward, who played four years in Wake Forest, finished with a career-high 17 points on 8-of-11 to go along with 13 rebounds. And with Rike dropping 10 points in the second quarter, NU would lead by as much as 12 points in the first half.
Behind the troika of Alvin Pasaol, Christopher Conner, and Philip Manalang, UE cut the lead to as low as five points. But NU’s firepower proved to be too much in the final frame.
Issa Gaye manned the fort with 12 points, eight blocks, and six rebounds. This is the second time this season the Senegalese student-athlete had eight blocks in a game.
Besides Rike, Rev Diputado, Dave Yu, and Matthew Aquino finished their UAAP career as well. Disputado and Yu – the final remnants of the UAAP Season 77 championship team – had five and six points, respectively. Aquino, who transferred to NU three years ago, tallied seven points, seven rebounds, and three blocks.
With the win, the Bulldogs avoided tying their worst finish in 10 years, as the hosts finished the season with a 4-10 slate. NU ended with a 3-11 record back in Season 72.
“You always want to end the season with a win but it’s a funny feeling because if you end up with the win and you don’t really celebrate, that means you didn’t make it,” said second-year NU head coach Jamike Jarin.
The same could not be said about UE, as they suffered their worst campaign since joining the league.
In what could be his final collegiate game, Alvin Pasaol tallied 20 points, 14 rebounds, four steals, and two assists. He finished with a scoring average of 24.4 points — the highest norms for a local player since 2003.
Christopher Conner added 19 points and 13 boards.
Rey Acuno, Jason Varilla, and Ric Gallardo played their last game for UE. Acuno had 11 points in 26 minutes of game time, while Varilla chipped in 10 markers in 27 minutes of action.
NU 79 – Rike 17, Gaye 12, Ildefonso D 9, Ildefonso S 9, Aquino 7, Yu 6, Salim 6, Diputado 5, Galinato 4, Clemente 2, Tibayan 2, Morido 0, Joson 0, Malonzo 0
UE 71 – Pasaol 20, Conner 19, Acuno 11, Varilla 10, Manalang 7, Bartolome 2, Guion 2, Cullar 0, Maloles 0, Gallardo 0, Strait 0
Quarterscores: 21-17, 44-32, 58-46, 79-71