UAAP Basketball

No more miracle Maroons: NU pulls off shocker as UP luck runs out

Martin Mendoza
No more miracle Maroons: NU pulls off shocker as UP luck runs out

STUNNER. NU's Kean Baclaan (center) and Michael Malonzo celebrate their huge win over UP's Zav Lucero and the Maroons.

The NU Bulldogs force a three-way tie at the No. 1 spot after completing a huge upset over the erstwhile unbeaten UP Fighting Maroons

MANILA, Philippines – The defending champion UP Fighting Maroons can’t pull off an escape this time.

After starting the season by surviving three straight thrillers, the Maroons failed to orchestrate another miracle against the feisty National University.

The NU Bulldogs notched their second straight win and forced a three-way tie at the No. 1 spot with a nail-biting 80-75 upset of the erstwhile unbeaten UP Maroons at the Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday, October 12.

It was a total team effort for the Bulldogs in their first victory over the Fighting Maroons in the UAAP since October 2017 as four players scored in double figures, with foreign student-athlete Omar John leading the way with a near double-double of 16 points and 9 rebounds.

Rookie point guard Kean Baclaan filled up the stat sheet once again with 13 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals, while John Figueroa and Steve Nash Enriquez contributed 10 points each for the Bulldogs, who tied the Fighting Maroons and the Ateneo Blue Eagles at 3-1 in the standings.

Already leading by as many as 12 points early in the second half, 54-42, NU failed to protect its double-digit advantage as UP came roaring back for a 66-60 lead with 1:08 remaining in the frame.

Luckily for the Bulldogs, they managed to regain their footing as they responded with a crucial 13-0 blast for a 73-66 advantage midway through the fourth quarter.

The Fighting Maroons showed some signs of life late in the game off a booming triple by Carl Tamayo that cut the Bulldogs’ lead back to just a single possession, 75-78, with 1:10 left to play.

UP even had a chance to tie the score at 78-all in the final minute, but reigning UAAP Player of the Week Terrence Fortea failed to convert on his two three-point attempts as Enriquez sealed the deal with a pair of crucial free throws.

“Good win for us, we beat a very tough team,” said NU head coach Jeff Napa.

“That is why they are the defending champions. Up to the last minute, we really bled for whatever we needed to do just to get the win,” he continued.

Zav Lucero delivered 22 points and 8 rebounds, while Tamayo had a double-double of 17 markers and 11 boards for the Fighting Maroons, who played without their head coach Goldwin Monteverde due to urgent family matters.

The red-hot Bulldogs will shoot for their third straight victory when they collide with the Adamson Soaring Falcons on Saturday, October 15 at 4 pm, while the Fighting Maroons will try to rebound against the Blue Eagles in a rematch of the Season 84 finals on Sunday, October 16, at 4:30 pm.

The Scores

NU 80 – John 16, Baclaan 13, Enriquez 10, Figueroa 10, Minerva 6, Clemente 6, Malonzo 5, Yu 4, Galinato 4, Mahinay 2, Tibayan 2, Manansala 2, Palacielo 0, Padrones 0.

UP 75 – Lucero 22, Tamayo 17, Abadiano 11, Alarcon 9, Diouf 7, Fortea 6, Gonzales 2, Spencer 1, Galinato 0, Calimag 0, Ramos 0.

Quarters: 23-24, 50-42, 66-66, 80-75.

– Rappler.com

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