Tanduay survives BDO-NU's late push to move closer to quarterfinal edge


By Ivan Saldajeno

PASIG--Exactly three decades after one of its well-known alumnus helped in anchoring the first EDSA Revolution, NU's men's basketball team came close to completing an epic revolution of its own.

But its opponent hung on.

The Tanduay Rhum Masters survived the Bulldogs' comeback bid from 29 points down and escaped with an 83-81 win in their PBA D-League Aspirants Cup showdown at the Ynares Sports Arena on Thursday night.

Tanduay thought a 59-30 lead late in the second quarter was comfortable enough to get a smooth cruise to its fifth win of the tournament.

But BDO-NU found second wind in the second half, going on a 24-3 run in the third quarter to cut the lead to seven, 63-56, with 1:02 remaining in the period.

The Rhum Masters went on a 5-0 run before conceding a Jjay Alejandro split to end the quarter ahead, 68-57.

They appeared to be holding on as they were able to maintain the double-digit lead, even slightly extending it to 12, 83-71, 2:21 remaining in the game.

But Alejandro led the Bulldogs' final attack, making five points and an assist to Alfred Aroga to bring them to within five, 78-83, with 1:30 left.

Following a Tanduay miss, Med Salim scored to further trim the gap to three, 80-83, with 52.1 seconds to go.

BDO-NU had another chance to even tie the game after another failed Tanduay execution, but Alfred Aroga, off a Pari Llagas foul, only made one of two free throws to bring the team to within two, 81-83, with 18.6 seconds on the clock.

The Bulldogs forced a turnover to get the ball back with 8.5 seconds remaining in the game, but Alejandro also committed a turnover of his own by giving a wild pass, giving the Rhum Masters the possession with three seconds left.

Alejandro bounced back by picking Tanduay's inbound pass and found Salim, but the latter muffed what could have been the game-winning triple at the buzzer.

Val Acuña fired 14 points, while former Bulldog Reden Celda chipped in 11 for the Rhum Masters, who have now won five straight following a 0-2 start and can clinch one of the remaining two twice-to-beat advantages in the quarterfinals with a win against the Phoenix-FEU Accelerators on Monday.

Alejandro finished with 19 points for the Bulldogs, who fell to 1-5, just a half-game ahead of the Wangs' Couriers, who lost to the UP-QRS-JAM Fighting Maroons earlier Thursday.

Box Scores:

Tanduay 83-Acuna 14, Celda 11, Belencion 10, Lingganay 10, Wetherell 9, Llagas 8, Gotladera 6, Javillonar 6, Pessumal 5, Santos 4, Tagarda 0

BDO-NU 81-Alejandro 19, Aroga 18, Salim 16, Perez 7, Yu 7, Diputado 4, Javelona 4, Salem 4, Labing-isa 2, Rono 0, Tansingco 0

Quarterscores: 30-15, 59-32, 68-58, 83-81

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