Alejandro saves the season for the Bulldogs
DIE ANOTHER DAY. J-Jay Alejandro was not letting today be the last day of contention for NU.
National University was at the receiving end of torrid shooting from Far Eastern University on Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.
None of that mattered, however, for J-Jay Alejandro.
Scorching the nets with 11 points in the final frame, the team captain willed his Bulldogs right through the red-hot Tamaraws, 87-84, to stay alive in the UAAP 80 Men’s Basketball Tournament.
The Sampaloc-based squad needed a win to keep contending. “This is the dream. This is what I was expecting from our players. I hope it’s not too late, I hope it’s not too late,” head coach Jamike Jarin said.
Alejandro gave them that and more, taking over in the endgame with half of the points in the 22-2 run that erased a 15-point deficit and erected an 86-81 advantage with 2:51 remaining. “We never bowed down. I’m happy right now because I saw the maturity,” their mentor said.
Ron Dennison buried a triple to pull FEU to within 84-86 with under two minutes remaining, but NU wouldn’t let them come any closer.
With possession in the hands of the Tamaraws in the last 13 seconds, Wendell Comboy threw up an errant inbound to the hands of Enzo Joson.
Not long after, the first-year player split his free throws to seal the deal in the Bulldogs’ come-from-behind win. He wound up with 13 points, four rebounds, and one game-sealing interception.
Issa Gaye also provided a big boost with 24 points, 11 rebounds, and two blocks while Chino Mosqueda and Jonas Tibayan chipped in eight and seven points, respectively.
Those contributions were more than enough to offset FEU’s torrid shooting that totaled 18 triples – tops in league history.
Still, it was Alejandro who saved the day, and the season, for NU as he also had nine assists and six rebounds to his name. “J-Jay demanded for the ball and we gave him the ball. He made the right decisions so hats off to him, but it was a total team effort,” Jarin said.
Now at 5-8, they are nipping at the heels of fourth-running and 6-7 FEU and fifth-running and 5-7 University of the Philippines.
For the Tamaraws, Arvin Tolentino and Ron Dennison each had 21 points under their belts.
NU 87 – Gaye 24, Alejandro 17, Joson 13, Mosqueda 8, Tibayan 7, Abatayo 6, Aquino 5, Diputado 4, Yu 2, Cauilan 1, Bartlett 0, Morido 0, Salem 0, Rangel 0, Lastimosa 0
FEU 84 – Tolentino 21, Dennison 21, Comboy 16, Cani 14, Inigo 3, Tuffin 3, Ebona 2, Escoto 2, Orizu 2, Parker 0, Trinidad 0
QUARTER SCORES: 19-27, 39-47, 64-72, 87-84
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