NU stays top dog even as Sotto’s Eaglets seize UAAP 81 playoff berth
Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Jan 27, 2019 12:47 PM
Kevin Quiambao connived with Carl Tamayo to lift NU to yet another win
The finalists from a season ago are now both into the Final Four of the UAAP 81 Juniors Basketball Tournament.
Nazareth School of National University had already made its way there in its last game, but is now one win away from a twice-to-beat advantage after running away from University of the East late all the way to a 77-56 decision on Sunday at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
Last year’s runners-up found themselves in a surprisingly close contest until unleashing a 20-4 tear in the final frame.
Twin towers Carl Tamayo and Kevin Quiambao did most of their damage there and the former finished with 15 points and six rebounds while the latter ended with 14 markers and 13 boards.
Still, it was Gerry Abadiano who was steady all throughout and made sure his team didn’t fall behind to their lowly opponents. He wound up with 17 points, four rebounds, four assists, and two steals all while leading the Bullpups into rising to an 11-1 standing.
With another win, not only will they claim a twice-to-beat advantage, they will also clinch the overall top-seed for the next round.
They try to get just that a week from now up against the University of the Philippines Integrated School. By then, they will also have super scorer Terrence Fortea back in tow after he had to serve a one-game suspension.
Meanwhile, defending champion Ateneo de Manila University has also kicked down the door into the Final Four by virtue of taming University of Sto. Tomas, 87-78.
Kai Sotto was a force as always and wound up with 33 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists while starting point guard Ian Espinosa and power forward Geo Chiu combined for 30 markers and 14 boards of their own.
It was Sotto and Forthsky Padrigao, though, who engineered the red-hot 31-12 drive in the third quarter that turned a 10-point deficit at halftime into a 63-54 lead entering the final frame.
Mark Nonoy pulled the Tiger Cubs within 72-77 late, but Espinosa had the quick counter with back-to-back triples that ultimately shot the Blue Eaglets to their ninth win in 12 games.
In the end, Padrigao had 13 points, nine assists, six steals, and three rebounds to help the defending champions stay within striking distance of their own playoff incentive.
For UST, Nonoy showed the way as usual with 27 points, five steals, three rebounds, and two assists. Missing contributions from Bismarck Lina, however, they drop to 5-7 and, to stay alive, need to pray Adamson High School doesn’t win in its matchup opposite De La Salle Zobel later.
The Junior Warriors, long eliminated from contention, were paced by Shane Dichoso who had 24 points and five rebounds.
ATENEO 87 – Sotto 33, Espinosa 15, Chiu 15, Padrigao 13, David 6, Diaz 5, Fetalvero 0, Jaymalin 0, Ladimo 0, Salandanan 0
UST 78 – Nonoy 27, Casingcasing 18, Manabat 10, Marzan 9, Amador 4, Lina 4, Dolendo 2, Javier 2, Beliran 2, Oliva 0, Benzonan 0, Dumlao 0
QUARTER SCORES: 12-18, 32-42, 63-54, 87-78
NU 77 – Abadiano 17, Tamayo 15, Quiambao 15, Torres 6, Javillonar 6, Gonzales 4, Enriquez 4, Songcuya 3, Alarcon 2, Mailim 2, Vinoya 2, Abiera 2, Felicilda 0, Dayrit 0, Buensalida 0
UE 56 – Dichoso 24, Tajonera 9, Alinsoring 8, Sullano 4, Manaug 4, Gatdula 3, Flores 2, Agbas 2, Almacen 0, Lima 0, Villarta 0, Santos 0, Tan
QUARTER SCORES: 19-12, 38-36, 57-52, 77-56
Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.