MANILA, Philippines – The NU Bulldogs stayed composed amid the scoring spree of FEU star guard RJ Abarrientos.
And it paid off as the Bulldogs stunned the FEU Tamaraws, 73-68, in the UAAP Season 84 men’s basketball tournament on Saturday, April 2 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The super rookie Abarrientos erupted for 33 points, 24 coming from three-point range on an 8-of-15 clip, to lead the Tamaraws’ charge.
But the Bulldogs stayed within striking distance from the Tamaraws all throughout before closing with an 8-3 spurt to pull off the upset.
John Lloyd Clemente collected 18 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists to pace the Bulldogs, who recovered from back-to-back losses for a 2-2 record.
Michael Malonzo also tallied 14 points and 7 boards, while Shaun Ildefonso scored 13 for NU.
The Tamaraws skidded to their third straight loss for a 1-3 slate.
With NU trailing by just a point late, Jake Figueroa – the UAAP Season 82 juniors MVP – was able to fish for a foul that sent him to the charity stripe. He swished the first one to tie the match, 66-66, with 1:05 to go.
But Figueroa missed the second one, and there, Malonzo skied for the rebound and got fouled in the process to put himself at the line which he rattled both home for the NU lead, 68-66.
After a failed play by FEU, Figueroa attacked the basket on the other end but his shot was strong. Luckily, Malonzo was there again for the putback and the harm as he finished the three-point play for the five-point cushion with just 38 seconds left, 71-66.
The Tamaraws got their chances down the stretch but Abarrientos and Xyrus Torres missed them.
“At least yung veterans nag step up na,” said NU coach Jeff Napa. “The past three games, yun yung missing link namin. Nag step up yung veterans tapos sumama na yung mga rookies kaya nakuha namin yung panalo na to.”
(The veterans finally stepped up. The past three games, that was the missing link. The veterans stepped up along with the rookies that’s why we got this win.)
NU 73 – Clemente 18, Malonzo 14, Ildefonso 13, Minerva 9, Felicilda 7, Figueroa 5, Joson 4, Galinato 2, Tibayan 1, Gaye 0, Enriquez 0, Yu 0, Torres 0, Mahinay 0, Manansala 0.
FEU 68 – Abarrientos 33, Alforque 13, Gonzales 9, Bienes 4, Tempra 4, Ojuola 3, Sajonia 2, Torres 0, Coquia 0, Sleat 0, Li 0, Sandagon 0, Celzo 0.
Quarters: 14-18, 32-33, 49-58, 73-68.