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NU enters UAAP Final 4, ousts reeling UST

Kean Baclaan put up a solid all-around game for the now Final 4-bound Bulldogs. Christine Tapawan
By Dugout Philippines

PASAY—National University booked a Final Four ticket in the UAAP Season 85 Men’s Basketball Tournament with a 67-57 victory over bottom team University of Santo Tomas, Sunday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

The Bulldogs improved their record to 9-3 behind four straight wins. This victory marked the first time NU made the postseason for the first time since Season 78 when the program was under the tutelage of coach Eric Altamirano.

“What’s next? Kailangan namin mag-ensayo tomorrow. We have to be ready against La Salle,” said NU coach Jeff Napa. “We have to be ready for our last two games in the second round kasi hindi lang naman Final Four yung tina-target namin dito eh.”

Down 52-54 off a basket by UST’s JC Garing, NU turned things around to lead 64-54 with 1:51 remaining in the contest courtesy of shots from Steve Nash Enriquez, Omar John, Michael Malonzo, and John Lloyd Clemente.

Clemente led NU with 19 points and five rebounds while Omar John contributed 12 points. Kean Baclaan had 10 points, six assists, and five rebounds for the Bulldogs.

Malonzo also provided six points, six rebounds, four assists, and one steal for NU.

The Bulldogs forced the Growling Tigers to commit 15 turnovers, which allowed the former to score 14 points. NU also had 16 offensive rebounds and 12 second-chance points compared to UST’s eight and four respectively.

“Bad win for us but still naka-survive sa UST,” added Napa. ”Wala ng pressure si UST. They played their hearts out. Binigyan kami ng problema pero good thing, second half we came back, at least nag regroup kami. Nakuha namin yung panalo.”

On the other hand, the Growling Tigers’ record worsened to 1-10 on the back of 10 straight losses. UST is now officially out of Final Four contention.

UST only played eight players in the contest.

Nic Cabanero was the bright spark once again for the Espana school with 20 points and six rebounds while Adama Faye followed his lead with 11 points, 15 rebounds, and three blocks.

The scores:

NU (67) - Clemente 19, John 12, Baclaan 10, Malonzo 6, Manansala 6, Palacielo 4, Figueroa 4, Enriquez 3, Galinato 3, Mahinay 0, Yu 0, Tibayan 0, Padrones 0, Minerva 0.

UST (57) - Cabanero 20, Faye 11, Pangilinan 8, Garing 6, Calimag 5, Manaytay 4, Duremdes 3, Manalang 0

Quarters: 11-20, 29-36, 46-44, 67-57.

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