NU snaps two-game slide with blowout of Adamson

MANILA, Philippines – The National University Bulldogs snapped their two-game losing skid by way of another blowout win over the Adamson Soaring Falcons, 71-50, on Wednesday, August 20 at the Mall of Asia Arena. 

NU had lost their last game of the first round and their first contest in the second, both to the FEU Tamaraws, before notching their 6th win this season to keep in step with Ateneo (6-2) and FEU (6-2) in the standings with a 6-3 record.

Gelo Alolino led the charge for NU with his 14 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists, while Glenn Khobuntin wasn’t too far behind with 12 markers on 6-of-11 field goals to go with 6 rebounds. 

“We’re happy with this win. We knew how important this win is in the second round,” said NU head coach Eric Altamirano.

The Bulldogs did not mount an identical repeat of their first round meeting with the Falcons, where they forced the latter to make history in a dubious manner as NU scored a huge 62-25 win over them. The Falcons’ total game tally was the lowest scoring output for a team since 2003. 

But once again, NU forced Adamson into the record books for the wrong reasons.

In this second round clash, the Bulldogs limited Adamson to just two points for the entire second period. And it wasn’t the first time NU forced this on a team. The last team to score two points in a quarter was Ateneo in a 76-72 loss to NU on August 28, 2003, according to UAAP Chief Statistician Pong Ducanes 

“I think the second quarter was really pivotal. Our second group provided the spark and just focused on defense and our offense were created by our defense,” Altamirano noted the importance of his team outscoring Adamson in the second canto, 24-2. 

That performance was how NU rebounded from a slow and sloppy showing in the first period, where they threw the ball away 7 times which allowed Adamson to keep a close distance. 

But their recovery led them to a 42-16 halftime advantage, which Adamson would never overturn despite their best efforts especially in the payoff period.

After NU built their biggest lead at 56-25 on an Jayjay Alejandro triple late in the third, the Falcons showed some life in the final canto as Don Trollano and Jansen Rios carried the team on their backs, firing triples, forcing turnovers, and finishing fastbreaks at will.

Joseph Nalos managed to cut the deficit to 17, 62-45, with a three-pointer with 4:30 left to play but Khobuntin pulled out the fire extinguisher immediately as he finally converted the Bulldogs’ first field goal of that quarter on the other end, 64-45.

Altamirano’s wards suffered greatly at the hands of pressure defense as they turned the ball over 27 times. While Adamson had only 11 miscues all game long. 

“We cannot afford the way we played today especially the way we handled the press,” Altamirano said.  

His squad will be facing Ateneo, a team with even peskier defense, on Sunday, August 24. 

“We really have to come out prepared against Ateneo. Very unlikely of us to commit this many turnovers.”

Despite not being able to properly take care of the ball, the Bulldogs still showcased a fluid passing game and had 20 assists. 

Additionally, they dominated the boards, 65-32, which is NU’s biggest rebounding margin in a game since 2003, per Ducanes.

Henri Betayene and Alfred Aroga were rebounding machines with 14 and 12 boards, respectively. 

The Falcons, who are officially eliminated from Final Four contention with their 0-9 win-loss record, were led by Trollano’s 15 points and 8 rebounds. Rios added 10 markers and 8 boards as well. –