Michael Malonzo was clutch as National University returned to the win column after beating Far Eastern University, 73-68 in the UAAP Season 84 men's basketball tournament, Saturday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Trailing by just a point late, UAAP Season 82 High School Boys' Basketball MVP Jake Figueroa was able to fish for a foul that sent him to the charity stripe which he swished the first one to tie the match, 66-66, with 1:05 to go.
But he missed the second one. There, Malonzo skied for the rebound and got fouled in the process to put himself at the line which he rattled both home for the NU lead, 68-66.
After a failed play by FEU, Figueroa attacked the basket on the other end but his shot was strong. Luckily, Malonzo was there again for the putback and the harm as he finished the three-point play for the five-point cushion with just 38 seconds left, 71-66.
The Tamaraws got their chances down the stretch but RJ Abarrientos and Xyrus Torres missed them.
“At least yung veterans nag step up na,” said NU coach Jeff Napa. “The past three games, yun yung missing link namin. Nag step-up yung veterans tapos sumama na yung mga rookies kaya nakuha namin yung panalo na to.”
The Bulldogs got back to .500 with a 2-2 record for solo fourth while the Tamaraws fell to their third-straight defeat after winning their first game to drop to seventh.
John Lloyd Clemente led NU with 18 points, nine rebounds, and six assists, while Malonzo had 14 points on a 4-of-6 clip from the field with seven rebounds.
Shaun Ildefonso, despite fouling out with 2:09 remaining, still registered his best game this season with 13 points and six rebounds.
Abarrientos' 33-point performance founded on eight triples went for naught. This was the highest output for any Tamaraw since Terrence Romeo's 33-point outing against University of the Philippines back on September 11, 2013.
NU will next face Ateneo de Manila University at 7 pm on Tuesday. FEU will also try to end its skid at 4 pm against neighbor University of the East.
NU 73 - Clemente 18, Malonzo 14, Ildefonso 13, Minerva 9, Felicilda 7, Figueroa 5, Joson 4, Galinato 2, Tibayan 1, Gaye 0, Enriquez 0, Yu 0, Torres 0, Mahinay 0, Manansala 0.
FEU 68 - Abarrientos 33, Alforque 13, Gonzales 9, Bienes 4, Tempra 4, Ojuola 3, Sajonia 2, Torres 0, Coquia 0, Sleat 0, Li 0, Sandagon 0, Celzo 0.
Quarterscores: 14-18, 32-33, 49-58, 73-68.
Dennis Lachica, Sportsmanila Photojournalist