Alolino comes huge as NU slays FEU to move closer to Final Four

(file photo)
By Kevin Estrada

PASAY--Gelo Alolino woke up from a first half slumber to come up huge in the second half as National University defeated Far Eastern University in a tight 70-68 victory in the nightcap of UAAP 78 action at the MOA Arena on Saturday.

Alolino poured in 15 of his game-high 20 points in the second half, including the go-ahead jumper with 39 seconds to go to break the 68-all deadlock as the defending champions Bulldogs got even at the Tamaraws, who defeated them in the first round.

Alolino was aided by Alfred Aroga's double-double of 16 points and 12 rebounds, while Jeoffrey Javillonar and Reden Celda each had nine points for Coach Eric Altamirano, whose team ended the eliminations at an even 7-7. 

Mike Tolomia's 23 points, including the last three three-pointers, went down for naught for coach Nash Racela. Monbert Arong, Russel Escoto, and Mac Belo combined for 27 markers in a losing effort.

NU's win ended the postseason hopes of UE despite being swept by the latter in the regular season.

The Red Warriors cannot win more than 6 games when they will face UP in a virtually meaningless game on Wednesday

For FEU, the loss dashed the hopes of becoming the top seeded side at the end of the regular season, but they will face third-seeded Ateneo in the Final Four, in which they have the twice to beat bonus.

However, FEU will face La Salle on that fateful final day to settle any dispute in that precious last ticket to the Final Four bus.

With all the possible scenarios and they Final Four fate duly in their hands, NU started aggressively, scoring the first seven points of the game. However the Tamaraws ended the first quarter with the 17-14 lead.

The second quarter was the same topsy-turvy affair, with both teams exchanging baskets to keep the game close.

However, Alolino launched a long bomb to break the 29-all deadlock before the Bulldogs went to the locker rooms with a slim 32-31 lead at the half.

The closeness of the game became evident in the third, as both teams cannot get past the five-point barrier. both the Tamaraws and the Bulldogs exchanging shots and stops to the delight of the MOA Crowd but it was the defending champs ended the quarter with the same lead they held in the half, 51-50.

The Bulldogs and the Tamaraws continued their dogfight in the final frame, with lead changes and deadlocks were prevalent. as both of them were having their ice cold water in their nerves that showed the great quality in the Game.

However It was NU who provided the knockout punch in the last two minutes, Pao Javelona fired the triple to give the game it's eighth and last deadlock at 68-all with 1:55 to go. And Alolino cap off his great second half with an up and under J with 39 ticks to go to give them its 10 and last lead change in the game.

The Bulldogs used stinging defense for the rest of the game, with Aroga highlighting it with a block of Tolomia underneath the basket with 24 seconds to go

The former Youth Olympian even had the last chance to force overtime, but his last second bank attempt only hit the side rim as time expired.

Box Scores:

NU 70-Alolino 20, Aroga 16, Javilloar 9, Celda 9, Javelona 6, Diputado 4, Neypes 2, Alejandro 2, Salim 2, Morido 0, Abatayo 0

FEU 68-Tolomia 23, Arong 10, Ru. Escoto 9, Belo 8, Pogoy 8, Tamsi 5, Inigo 2, Ri. Escoto 2, Orizu 1, Trinidad 0, Ebona 0, S. Holmqvist 0

Quarterscores: 14-17, 32-31, 51-50, 70-68

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