MANILA, Philippines – The University of the East Red Warriors attained their first win of the UAAP season and in the post-Roi Sumang and Charles Mammie era by taking down the National University Bulldogs, 76-71, on Saturday, September 12, at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Trailing by 8 with 8 minutes left in the third period, UE used a 27-5 run to take a 14-point advantage entering the final quarter and held off the Bulldogs' late rally to escape with the win.
National U, similar to their loss to the Green Archers, rallied in the fourth period thanks to the impressive play of veteran Gelo Alolino, but University of the East made key shots down the stretch that allowed them to escape with their first win at the Mall of Asia Arena in two years.
“I think I challenged the guys at halftime. I tried to push them. I told them they have to show their worth,” said Red Warriors head coach Derrick Pumaren after the contest.
General Santos city native Edison Battiler had a great game, finishing with 23 points on 53% shooting - 14 coming in UE’s 28-9 third quarter against NU. Edgar Charcos also stepped up with 12 points, while Paul Varilla had 11.
“We tightened up on defense. We made NU throw the basketball away, and we took advantage of it,” Pumaren said about his team’s strong third period.
Alolino led the Bulldogs with 23 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists. He scored 12 of his total in the final quarter, where NU trimmed a 60-46 deficit down to 62-61.
Moments after their double-digit lead was cut to a single point, Varilla hit a huge 3-ball to put his team ahead 68-63 with 3:22 to go. Later on with 2:07 to go, Batiller hit a mid-range jumper to push UE’s lead to 70-64.
Off a timeout, J-Jay Alejandro couldn’t connect with Alolino on a pass, resulting to one of NU’s 31 turnovers. On the next possession, RR De Leon hit a baseline jumper to extend the lead to 72-64, essentially putting the final nail in the coffin.
Alfred Aroga grabbed 16 rebounds in the loss but had just 8 points.
“RR played great defense on Aroga… I know we will not be able to stop Aroga one on one, but we made him work, and then we made him play defense on the other end. RR played well tonight,” said Pumaren, whose team improves to 1-1 with the win. The Bulldogs, on the other hand, fall to 0-2.
UE will be back in action on Wednesday, September 16, when they face the 0-2 Adamson Soaring Falcons.
“It’s a game that I’m worried about, because it’s a big win today and I think the boys - this is a good win for us - but we cannot underestimate Adamson,” he said about the contest.
NU will look for their first win against the 1-1 Ateneo Blue Eagles.
UE (76): Battiler 23, Charcos 12, Varilla 11, Abanto 9, De Leon 8, Palma 6, Sta. Ana 4, Manalang 3, Derige 0, Gagate 0, Gonzales 0, Penuela 0, Yu 0
NU (71): Alolino 23, Javelona 16, Aroga 8, Salim 6, Diputado 5, Javillonar 5, Neypes 4, Abatayo 2, Celda 2, Alejandro 0, Morido 0, Rangel 0
Quarter scores: 20-16, 32-37, 60-46, 76-71 – Rappler.com