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Alejandro never thinks of pressure entering do-or-die game

J-Jay Alejandro (right) put on a show to save the NU Bulldogs' season. Ivan Saldajeno
By Ivan Saldajeno

In a game that could end his team's season, J-Jay Alejandro bucked the pressure and played the game of his life in the NU Bulldogs' Final Four win against the Ateneo Blue Eagles.

The former Malayan High School Red Robin said in the post-game interview, "Inisip ko lang, 'No pressure sa amin,' kasi sa amin ni Coach [Eric Altamirano] na gawin lang namin yung best namin tapos walang regrets kasi kapag ginawa mo yung best mo, manalo o matalo, alam ng tao yan."

Asked on how he exploded in the must-win game for the fourth-seeded Bulldogs, who entered the semis with a twice-to-beat disadvantage, Alejandro replied, "Sinabi sa akin nina [Assistant] Coach Joey [Guanio] at ni Coach Eric na naniniwala sila sa akin; pag pinasok ako, ibigay ko lang yung best ko kahit one rebound, one assist, loose ball, malaking bagay na sa amin yun."

Alejandro scored a college career-high 20 points on an almost flawless shooting and four assists to lead NU's charge in forcing another game with Ateneo for a spot in the Finals on Wednesday, the first time NU won in a Final Four game ever.

Asked about J-Jay breakout game, Altamirano said, "I think we have to give it to Jay. He was really focused today mentally and physically, and he's the type of player who can deliver any time."

Coach Eric also lauded the bench for stepping up in the game where he thought has less pressure than last year, where the Bulldogs, the top-seeds, squandered a twice-to-beat advantage and lost to UST.

"Malaki talaga yung pressure kapag number one ka compared to number four ka," he said.

He further said that the Bulldogs will once again bank on their defense for the rubber match despite conceding only seven turnovers on the Blue Eagles.

"Wala naman kaming maipagmamalaki kundi yung defense namin," Altamirano said.
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