NU makes it two in a row by dispatching UP
MANILA, Philippines - The National University Bulldogs continue to prove that they haven't fallen off the contenders table of the UAAP despite the departure of Bobby Ray Parks and Emmanuel Mbe.
With another dominant third quarter predicated on balanced scoring and quality defense, the Bulldogs won their second straight game in blowout fashion by easily taking down the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons, 70-59, on Saturday, July 19, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Gelo Alonino followed up his impressive season debut with another quality performance, putting up a career high of 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting, while spearheading the club's offense.
"He's not forcing the issue. He's scoring but not forcing the issue, which is good for a point guard," NU head coach Eric Altamirano complimented his starting PG after the game. He also said that while he's happy with the win, he wasn't satisfied with his team's performance.
"We're happy for the win, but I'm not happy with how we played. When we got the lead, we relaxed. We tried to force things. It's unlikely of us."
Alfred Aroga also played well, finishing with 16 points and 11 rebounds by taking advantage of UP's paltry interior defense, which allowed the Bulldogs a total of 44 points inside the paint.
"We wanted to get him (Aroga) the feel of the game today, in preparation for La Salle," noted Altamirano, whose team will look to go 3-0 by taking down defending champion La Salle on Wednesday, July 23.
"We have to really prepare well for La Sallle."
After failing to pull away in the second quarter, the Bulldogs came out guns ablaze in the third period. Capped off by an and-one play by Troy Rosario, NU put up a quick 7-0 run to gain its first double-digit lead, 44-33.
Rosario also had an impressive outing, finishing with 17 points and nine rebounds. Dave Moralde spearheaded UP with 15 markers, while JR Gallarza recorded 10 points and four boards.
UP seemed to counter like they did the entire first half by converting two straight buckets, but the Bulldogs kept the pressure up and maintained their comfortable lead. With three minutes to go in the third, Alonino converted a three-pointer to record his first field goal of the second half and put his club ahead, 52-39.
Entering the fourth period, the Fighting Maroons faced a 13-point deficit, and weren't able to bounce back.
"Right now we're thinking about one game at a time. Every game is important. We need to play better than how we played today," the NU head coach added.
The Bulldogs also had more second chance points than the Maroons, 13-5, and had nine more offensive rebounds, 16-7. After converting five three-pointers in the game's first two quarters, UP just made one in the second half.
The first quarter was the Alonino show for the Bulldogs. Other than dishing out easy scoring opportunities for his teammates, Alonino found his stroke early, scoring 12 points in the game's first 12 minutes.
However, other than him, no other National U player had a rhythm early similar to the team's last game against UST. UP, meanwhile, managed to stay in the contest thanks to 3 three-pointers in the first quarter - two coming from Gallarza.
After Alonino was subbed out for rookie Rev Diputado, the Fighting Maroons took advantage of NU's stagnant offense and built a 19-18 lead entering the second quarter.
"I just told our boys that if we focus on our defense, things will go our way," Alonino said about his club's slow start.
The Bulldogs continued to lean on isolation plays to begin the second canto, but shots started to fall.
A turnaround jumper by Khobuntin made the count 25-23 before a basket off a broken play gave NU a four-point lead.
Kyles Lao answered shortly after with a jumper, but Diputado quickly countered with a high-arching floater, 29-25.
Similar to their loss to University of the East, the Fighting Maroons were in danger of letting the game get out of hand in the later half of the second period.
Due to bad shot attempts and costly turnovers by UP, the Bulldogs attained easy scoring chances on the break while staying headstrong on defense.
After a block on the defensive end, Aroga converted a lay-up to give his team its biggest lead of the first half, 35-27.
At halftime, the Bulldogs' lead was trimmed to four, but were able to take advantage of their size inside, outscoring the Maroons 22-8 at the paint.
Alonino had 14 to lead NU after 24 minutes of action, while Moralde nearly matched him with 13. – Rappler.com
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