The University of the East Red Warriors rode on the broad shoulders of Alex Diakhite to score the 78-72 win over the National University Bulldogs, Sunday in the UAAP Season 82 Men’s Basketball Tournament at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Cameroonian slotman was a beast inside the paint, nabbing 22 points, 13 rebounds, three steals, three blocks, and two assists.
Diakhite’s imposing presence was largely why the Red Warriors averted a meltdown after leading by 13, 60-47,. He also helped them survive the Bulldogs’ late rally that cut the lead down to just one, 69-68, in the final 3:26.
It didn’t take long before the others followed suit, with Neil Tolentino, Rey Suerte, and Nick Abanto conspiring for UE’s 9-4 finale.
“Medyo pinalad lang kami ngayong araw. Yung mga players, their resolve was able to carry us today. We knew that if we should lose today, medyo magiging almost imposible na na makakabalik kami,” said active consultant Lawrence Chongson.
Suerte recorded 12 points, seven rebounds, six assists, and two steals. Tolentino unloaded 12 points, three boards, and three assists, while Abanto got eight and five for the Red Warriors.
Philip Manalang also posted a season-high 13 points, on top of his seven assists and four boards as he got things done early for UE in their 16-4 start.
It was a sweet feeling for the Red Warriors. They not only snapped a two-game losing skid, but can also look forward to the second round out of the cellar with their 2-5 record.
“‘Wag natin tanggapin na talo tayo parati,” said Chongson. “Namnamin natin ang panalo para dalhin nila going forward at gawin na habit.”
On the other hand, Patrick Yu captained NU with 17 points on a 3-of-6 three-point shooting. Shaun Ildefonso got 11 points and six rebounds in the defeat.
Dave Ildefonso was limited to a 3-of-13 shooting to wind up with just six points for the 1-6 Bulldogs.
UE 78 – Diakhite 22, Manalang 13, Suerte 12, Tolentino 12, Abanto 8, Antiporda 6, Cruz 5, Apacible 0, Lorenzana 0, Pagsanjan 0
NU 72 – Yu 17, S. Ildefonso 11, Gallego 8, Oczon 8, Clemente 6, D. Ildefonso 6, Joson 5, Malonzo 5, Gaye 4, Tibayan 2, Galinato 0, Mangayao 0, Minerva 0, Mosqueda 0.
Quarterscores: 18-12, 37-32, 57-47, 78-72.