Kean Baclaan rediscovered his shooting touch, leading National University's turnaround in the second half as they toppled Adamson University, 69-66, securing its fourth straight win in the UAAP Season 86 Men's Basketball Tournament at the UST Quadricentennial Pavilion on Saturday.
In the Bulldogs' two previous games against University of the East and De La Salle University, Baclaan heavily struggled, going a combined 5-of-26 from the field and missing all seven of his three-pointer attempts.
However, in this game, he returned to his former school, UST, with a bang. He dropped all of his 19 points in the second half, including five three-pointers in the third quarter, along with five assists and four rebounds.
"Pinrove ko lang yung worth ko sa team. Pinakita ko lang kung ano yung kaya ko maitulong sa team. Hindi ko naman inisip yung points, kusa lang din dumating. Parang ngayon lang nangyari sa akin yun limang sunod sunod na three points," said second-year guard Baclaan about his onslaught.
Baclaan broke the 63-all deadlock with a two-point shot before making passes to Steve Nash Enriquez for two baskets, giving them a 69-63 lead with 1:28 to go.
Matthew Montebon responded with a booming three-pointer in the ensuing play to pull the Soaring Falcons within three, 66-69. However, Adamson could not make the necessary baskets as Montebon missed his three-point attempt with 32 seconds remaining.
They got one more chance after forcing a turnover on the next play, but Joshua Yerro missed badly as time expired.
"Give credit sa Adamson talaga, alam naman naming hindi porket nandoon sila sa anumang posisyon nila mahina na. Ever since, I know Coach Nash kahit saan siya mapunta nagiging very competitive yung team na yun," said Bulldogs Head Coach Jeff Napa, whose team faced a 41-30 deficit at the half.
Jake Figueroa added 17 points and five rebounds for NU, while Enriquez also contributed 13 points.
The Bulldogs ended the first round with a strong hold on the second spot at 6-1, just behind lone tormentor University of the Philippines.
The Soaring Falcons suffered their second straight loss, falling to 3-4 and landing in fifth place. They also bowed to Far Eastern University last Wednesday, 46-49.
Matt Erolon led Adamson with 14 points on four three-pointers, while Montebon delivered 11 points, including two three-pointers. Nigerian big man OJ Ojarikre also scored 10 points and grabbed six rebounds.
NU 69 – Baclaan 19, Figueroa 17, Enriquez 13, Jumamoy 5, Delos Reyes 4, Manansala 3, Yu 2, Lim 2, John 2, Palacielo 2, Malonzo 0, Galinato 0, Perciano 0, Parks 0.
AdU 66 – Erolon 14, Montebon 11, Ojarikre 10, Yerro 8, Calisay 7, Sabandal 5, Manzano 4, Hanapi 3, Colonia 2, Magbuhos 2, Barasi 0, Barcelona 0, Canete 0.
Quarterscores: 11-17, 30-41, 55-54, 69-66