NU eliminates UST from playoff contention
DAY OF THE DOGS. J-Jay Alejandro and NU played the part of executioner to UST's contention.
Just 10 games into the UAAP 80 Men’s Basketball Tournament, University of Sto. Tomas’ contention has come to a close at the hands of National University.
Riding a 24-6 third quarter surge, the Bulldogs pulled off a 91-83 win on Sunday at the Filoil Flying V Centre while also pushing off the Tigers into a 0-10 hole they will not be able to get out of.
Losers of five or the last six, the decision was much welcome for the Sampaloc-based squad who sent a statement that they aren’t going away just yet now at 4-6.
Making the win even more special was the fact that legendary alumnus Danny Ildefonso was calling the shots in place of head coach Jamike Jarin who was serving a one-game suspension. “First of all, thank you sa mga players dahil may instruction kami pero sila pa rin naman ang naglalaro,” he told reporters post-game.
Still, it definitely come easy as UST looked like a team on a mission and even went on a 17-5 run bridging the middle quarters to turn a five-point deficit into a 52-45 lead.
It was at that point that team captain J-Jay Alejandro rallied his troops and had four assists as four other Bulldogs teamed up in the 24-6 surge that put them way ahead, 69-58, late in the third.
The Tigers would last threaten at 81-86 inside the last four minutes before Nico Abatayo and Issa Gaye went back-to-back to put the finishing touches in NU’s return to the win column.
In the end, Gaye towered above all for 22 points, six rebounds, and six blocks while Matt Salem also made an impact with a 22-point, 10-rebound double-double.
With those two in complete command, J-Jay Alejandro didn’t even need to do much scoring and had an all-around 10 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists.
Though the Bulldogs remain at the sixth spot, they now stand just right behind fifth-running and 4-5 University of the Philippines and fourth-running and 5-5 Far Eastern University.
On the other hand, with their 10th loss to start the season, UST is the first team to be eliminated.
Steve Akomo showed the way for them with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
NU 91 – Gaye 22, Salem 22, Alejandro 10, Abatayo 10, Joson 7, Mosqueda 5, Bartlett 5, Yu 5, Diputado 3, Aquino 2, Tibayan 0, Morido 0, Cauilan 0
UST 83 – Akomo 16, Lee 15, De Guzman 14, Caunan 11, Faundo 8, Sta. Ana 6, Huang 6, Escalambre 3, Basibas 2, Soriano 2, Romero 0, Macasaet 0
QUARTER SCORES: 24-21, 40-43, 69-61, 91-83
Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.