NU beats FEU, ends 60-year UAAP title drought

Jane Bracher

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NU beats FEU, ends 60-year UAAP title drought
Defense wins championships. Top defensive team Bulldogs held off the Tamaraws for a 75-59 win in Game 3 of their Season 77 best-of-three finals match
BIG DOG. Alfred Aroga goes for the layup against FEU. Photo by Josh Albelda/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) _ The long wait is over.

The National University Bulldogs finally put an end to their 60-year title drought as they crushed the Far Eastern University Tamaraws, 75-59, on Wednesday, October 15 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum to bag the UAAP Season 77 men’s basketball championship.

As the top defensive team in the league, the Bulldogs displayed their superior defense one more time to ensure the title will go home to them for the first time since 1954.

Alfred Aroga, playing in just his first year for NU as he missed last season due to residency, was named Finals MVP as he led all Bulldogs in Game 3 with 24 points and 18 rebounds.

Gelo Alolino, who provided the clutch heroics for NU throughout the playoffs, had 12 points and 5 rebounds.

FEU started out strong and led by 11-5 midway in the opening period before NU settled down and clawed back, tying the count at 11 before ending the first period up by 20-18.

In front of record-breaking 25,118 crowd, NU continued to pound the ball underneath, banking on their bench, who accounted for 47 points while FEU’s second unit had only 13, as the Bulldogs ended the first half up by 30-26.

A huge third quarter rally deflated the Tamaraws as Jess Diputado connected on a three-pointer and a one-hander from the baseline to erect a 49-35 advantage with just under 3 minutes to go in that frame.

The Bulldogs led by 55-44 heading into the final quarter, and effectively made them 13-0 this season when leading after the first 3 periods.

NU was excellent at preventing FEU from building any sort of momentum, especially in the fourth quarter, where they engineered three-point play after three-point play to keep the Tamaraws within a safe double-digit distance.
IN PHOTOS: NU Bulldogs defeat FEU to win UAAP title

Graduating NU team captain Glenn Khobuntin put on the finishing touches with another and-one with 1:51 left to give the Bulldogs a comfortable 73-57 advantage.
Graduating Bulldog Glenn Khobuntin shares an emotional moment with his parents. Photo by Josh Albelda/Rappler

Khobuntin later made his endgame free throws in tears on his way to finish his UAAP career with 10 points, 6 rebounds, two assists and a steal.

Kyle Neypes and Troy Rosario added 8 and 6 points, respectively.

Two was the magic number for NU as they had to overcome top-seeded Ateneo de Manila University twice in order to reach the Finals.

They then had to climb back from a 0-1 Finals series deficit after the Tamaraws drew first blood in the series, surviving the mighty Tamaraws twice.

The Bulldogs finally claimed the title after 3 attempts since 2012. NU made it to the Final Four in Season 75 for the first time in 10 years bannered by two-time UAAP MVP Ray Parks.
But they missed another shot last year despite finishing with the top seed after they were ousted by fourth-seed University of Santo Tomas in the Final Four.

This season, they repeated against the Blue Eagles and went on to complete the upset, becoming the first fourth-seeded team to go on and take home the crown.

NU dominated basketball this season as their women’s team the Lady Bulldogs swept the entire tournament to win their first ever UAAP title.

All this success comes 6 years after the Sy family of SM Group of Companies acquired majority ownership of the school in 2008 and revamped its sports programs.

Meanwhile, the Tamaraws, who also had a difficult route to the Finals going up against defensing champions De La Salle University, fell short of a follow-up to their last championship in 2005.

Mike Tolomia and Mac Belo led FEU with 23 and 17 points, respectively. Belo, who was part of this season’s Mythical 5 selection, added 13 boards. 

Netizens used various social networking sites to express their emotions after the match. #UAAPFinalsGame3 quickly became the number one trending topic worldwide as the fans and spectators congratulated both universities for giving it their all in the winner-take-all game.

Other related keywords including After 60 (pertaining to NU’s 60-year title drought), and (Alfred) Aroga trended in the Philippines while Aroga and teammate (Glenn) Khobuntin also trended worldwide.
Check out more tweets below:

– with reports from Kaye Cabal/

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