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Bulldogs buck late UE run to clinch last UAAP Final Four berth

By Ivan Saldajeno
The NU Bulldogs prayed for thanksgiving after they clinched the
last UAAP Final Four berth against the UE Red Warriors.
Ivan Saldajeno  
By Ivan Saldajeno

National University lost a late seven-point lead but held on to oust UE from Final Four contention, 51-49, in a rubber match at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

The win thus catapulted the Bulldogs to the semifinal round beginning on Wednesday.

NU led, 49-42, with three minutes left in the game after Alfred Aroga went all the way for the layup off his own steal.

Four missed free throws hurt UE's cause more.

But Roi Sumang ignited a 7-0 Red Warriors run with a fastbreak layup off a steal with Gelo Alolino's fifth foul and the bonus charity.

Sumang then made a long three-pointer in the next UE offensive to cut his team's deficit to one, 49-48, with 1:16 remaining.

The Red Warriors then forced a turnover on Pao Javelona five seconds later.

Sumang missed a potential go-ahead jumper, but Chris Javier grabbed the offensive rebound and got fouled by Aroga.

Javier only made one of two free throws, and the game was tied, 49-49.

Paul Varilla tried to secure the offensive rebound, but he lost the ball out of bounds, giving NU a chance to win.

Rev Diputado went for a middle-range jumper that he missed.

Varilla secured the loose ball this time, but the referee called a traveling violation against him, giving the ball back to the Bulldogs.

Pao Javelona saw an open Aroga inside and dished the pass, leading to a Charles Mammie foul.

Aroga, who only made 53% of his free throws during the elimination, made two clutch charities that turned out to be the game-winning shots for the Bulldogs, who staved off 35 turnovers.

Bong Galanza missed the potential game-winning three-pointer at the final buzzer as he saw his Red Warriors' five-game winning streak that gave them a chance make the Final Four end in the most heartbreaking of manners.

Glenn Khobuntin made 12 points and six rebounds off the bench to lead NU, who will face Ateneo in the Final Four.

Sumang scored 13 of his game-high 19 points in the fourth quarter. He added two rebounds and four steals.

Box Scores:

NU 51-Khobuntin 12, Rosario 9, Alolino 7, Aroga 7, Javelona 6, Betayene 4, Alejandro 3, Perez 2, Diputado 1, Celda 0, Neypes 0

UE 49-Sumang 19, Galanza 9, Mammie 8, Varilla 5, Javier 5, Arafat 2, Guiang 1, Alberto 0, Olayon 0, De Leon 0, Palma 0, Jumao-as 0

Quarterscores: 15-14, 26-21, 38-31, 51-49
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