Lady luck was on the side of National University as it escaped with a 71-69 win over Adamson University in the UAAP Season 84 Men’s Basketball Tournament, Saturday at the closed-door SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Rookie Jake Figueroa’s jumper and big man Issa Gaye’s put-back gave the Bulldogs a vital 71-67 edge with less than 50 seconds left in the game. Jerom Lastimosa’s free throws cut the deficit to 69-71.
The Soaring Falcons could have won the game in crunch time but Lastimosa’s three missed the target. Tricky Peromingan then got the rebound and the foul but he failed to convert his free throws with 0.9 seconds left in the game.
It was a fortunate escape by NU considering the fact that they led as much as 48-34 at the 4:35 mark of the third quarter thanks to Malonzo’s free throws. The Bulldogs lost that lead after veteran guard Jerom Lastimosa’s lay-up capped off a 10-0 run to trim the deficit to as low as 44-48.
“Although we won the game, pero nung fourth quarter nagkaroon ng poor execution,” said Napa. “This is a young team kaya ee need to catch up. Luckily, binigay sa amin tong panalong to pero marami pa kaming kailangang trabahuin.”
Former NU Bullpup Janjan Felicilda had a dream debut with 14 points, four rebounds, and four assists. Robert Minerva followed Felicilda’s lead with eight points. Six-foot-3 forward Michael Malonzo seized 10 rebounds and scored five points for the Bulldogs.
NU’s bench mob was very productive as it provided 45 points compared to Adamson’s 17. The Bulldogs also had 14 fastbreak points against the Soaring Falcons’ two.
“So happy na si Janjan nag step-up ngayon then si Jake din pero everybody naman willing to step up naman yung mga yan,” added Napa. “Talagang yung iba over-excitement lang dahil almost two years ng walang competitive basketball talaga. Hopefully, on our next game everybody will step-up para hindi kami mapunta sa ganitong sitwasyon.”
Newcomer Didat Hanapi had a stellar first game for Adamson as he led the Soaring Falcons with 20 points followed by Lastimosa’s 18. Lenda Douanga put up a double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds while Joem Sabandal scored 11 points as well
Both schools will resume their respective campaigns on Tuesday at the SM MOA Arena.
Adamson (0-1) takes on University of the East at 10:00 AM while NU (1-0) goes up against De La Salle University at 4:00 PM.
NU (71) - Felicilda 14, Minerva 8, Clemente 8, Figueroa 7, Torres 7, Galinato 6, Gaye 6, Mahinay 6, Malonzo 5, Ildefonso 2, Manansala 2, Joson 0, Yu 0, Enriquez 0, Tibayan 0.
Adamson (69) - Hanapi 20, Lastimosa 18, Sabandal 11, Douanga 11, Zaldivar 3, Manzano 2, Yerro 2, Colonia 1, Magbuhos 1, Peromingan 0, Jaymalin 0, Barasi 0, Erolon 0.
Quarterscores: 19-13, 36-28, 52-48, 71-69. (Dennis Lachica, Sportsmanila Photojournalist)