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Bulldogs end 60-year title drought after downing Tamaraws in Finals decider

Kyle Neypes raises his fists up after his NU Bulldogs finally capture the UAAP
title after 60 years. Ivan Saldajeno
By Ivan Saldajeno

The NU Bulldogs put to a close a 60-season wait for their second UAAP men's basketball title after trouncing the FEU Tamaraws, 75-59, in the final game of the championship series in front of 25,138 people at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

The Bulldogs once again banked on their defense, but they also leaned on a late third quarter run to cruise to the Finals-clinching win.

The Tamaraws surged ahead at the start, quickly racing to an 11-5 lead behind Mike Tolomia's seven-point spurt.

But Alfred Aroga led the Bulldogs' 15-5 run that gave them a 20-16 advantage later in the first period.

The NU rally continued early in the second quarter as the team increased the lead to eight, 26-18.

FEU slowly crawled back and came to within two, 28-30, early in the third.

After an exchange of baskets, the Bulldogs began pulled away later in the period, unleashing a 10-0 run behind five points each from Gelo Alolino and Rev Diputado that gave them a 14-point cushion, 49-35, with 2:56 left in the quarter.

The Tams tried to catch up, scoring six straight points to cut the lead to eight, 49-41, with 1:50 left in the third.

But a 9-3 NU run spanning the last two quarters rebuilt the double-digit edge, which the team would hold on until the end.

Aroga had a near 20-20 game as he scored 24 points and grabbed 18 rebounds along with two assists, two blocks, and a steal.

He was also on target the entire game, converting seven of 11 field goals and ten of 14 free throws.

Alolino added 12 points, seven in the pivotal third period.

Mike Tolomia led the Tamaraws with 23 points, three rebounds, three assists, five steals and a block.

Tolomia, however, only made ten of 26 shots on the floor, including a dismal 3-of-15 clip from rainbow territory.

Mac Belo added 17 points on 6-of-20 shooting and 13 rebounds.

NU became the first fourth-seeded team ever to win the UAAP title, completely shattering the nightmare of last year, when it got the infamy of becoming the first top-seeded team to lose in the semifinals.

Box Scores:

NU 75-Aroga 24, Alolino 12, Khobuntin 10, Alejandro 10, Neypes 8, Rosario 6, Diputado 5, Javelona 0, Betayene 0, Perez 0, Salim 0

FEU 59-Tolomia 23, Belo 17, Dennison 6, Cruz 4, Jose 4, IƱigo 3, Hargrove 2, Tamsi 0, Pogoy 0, Ri. Escoto 0, Ru. Escoto 0, Ugsang 0

Quarterscores: 20-18, 30-26, 55-44, 75-59
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