MANILA, Philippines – Ildefonso brothers Dave and Shaun starred as the National U Bulldogs tripped the University of Santo Tomas Tigers, 75-70, at the start of their campaign in the UAAP Season 81 men’s basketball tournament on Saturday, September 8 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Dave Ildefonso had a marvelous debut with a team-high 19 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists. His brother Shaun tallied a double-double of 10 points and 11 boards.
Senegalese big man Issa Gaye was a defensive monster with 6 points, 7 blocks and 4 boards to also lift the Bulldogs, who held off a late UST run and spoiled the coaching debut of former champion La Salle mentor Aldin Ayo.
After a back and forth first half, the upstart Bulldogs broke away in the third quarter as they outscored the lost Tigers, 21-9, for a 54-37 lead heading into the 4th quarter.
Boosted by Gilas cadet Troy Rike, the Ildefonso brothers showed their versatility on offense with hard drives and pinpoint shooting as Jamike Jarin’s squad created a double-digit separation.
However, UAAP juniors MVP CJ Cansino changed that in the final frame with 6 straight points for UST, ending with a rare 4-point play to slash the NU lead to 8, 60-52.
Cameroonian big man Steve Akomo brought it down to 7, 60-67, with a mid-range jumper at the 4:10 mark.
In the end, UST’s run was all for nothing as NU’s John Lloyd Clemente was left open on the break for the dagger layup, 74-68, with 25 seconds left.
Despite, the win, Jarin found a lot to improve on.“[Us] coaches, we’re not satisfied,” he said post-game.
“We played really good in the 3rd quarter and all of a sudden, we didn’t play selflessly in the 4th quarter,” added Jarin. “That only shows that we really have a young team. We need to mature fast in order to compete this season.”
But Jarin gave credit to his young guns. “I look good because of the way they play,” he said.
Super rookies Cansino and Dave Ildefonso made noise in the first half amid struggling team vets as they led both their squads with 10 points apiece.
Cansino wound up leading the Tigers with a game-high 20 points and 10 rebounds. Renzo Subido added 15 points, albeit on a horrid 5-of-24 (21%) clip.
NU 75 – Ildefonso D. 19, Ildefonso S. 10, Joson 8, Clemente 6, Gaye 6, Rike 6, Aquino 4, Sinclair 4, Galinato 4, Yu 3, Gallego 3, Diputado 2, Morido 0.
UST 70 – Cansino 20, Subido 15, Akomo 12, Lee 6, Caunan 6, Zamora 5, Huang 4, Bataller 2, Cosejo 0, Marcos 0, Bonleon 0.
Quarters: 14-14, 33-28, 54-37, 75-70.