Alfred Aroga notched three straight baskets including the go-ahead jumper in the dying seconds to push the National University (NU) into the win column after four games in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 78 men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on Saturday.
The 6’8 Cameroonian Aroga scored the game-winning shot with 14 ticks left in the game to seal defending champion NU Bulldogs’ 55-54 victory over the University of Santo Tomas (UST).
“I told my teammates not to lose hope in game like this,” said Aroga, who finished with 19 points plus 12 rebounds with one block.
“It was all heart,” said Altamirano, referring to Aroga’s game-winning shot. “I told the boys we are going to come back and I’m really happy that we’ve finally won.”
Rodolfo Alejandro and Nico Abatayo had nine and eight points, respectively, for the Bulldogs.
Gelo Alolino contributed nine assists and nine rebounds but only scored two points for NU.
Despite the win, the Bulldogs stayed at the bottom of the standings with one win against three losses.
UST absorbed its first loss in four games.
Kevin Ferrer led UST with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
In the first game, Ateneo De Manila University foiled a late rally by University of the East to score a 77-72 win – it’s third consecutive victory after losing in the opening game against Far Eastern University in September 6.
Shooting guard Von Pessumal, who is now playing his last year in the league, shot 6-of-10 in the three-point zone to equal is his old career-high 21 points. Guard Kiefer Ravena had a near triple-double of 15 points, nine rebounds and nine assists with two steals.
Pessumal achieved his first career-high 21 points last UAAP season.
“I knew I had a good rhythm today, had a good stroke too,” said Pessumal, who had 15 points in the second quarter.
The Red Warriors, who were down by as many as 13 points in the second and third periods, returned with aggression in the fourth quarter to threaten the Blue Eagles.
UE initiated a blistering 10-0 run capped by Edison Batiller’s baskets to narrow the gap to 60-63 in the middle of the last period. But Ateneo answered with six points to stretch the gap to 69-60 with only few minutes left in the game.
The Blue Eagles relied on the late baskets of Ravena, who posted eight important points in the final period to keep their lead.
“I think we got our bearings back. This is a tough win for us because this is our third game in a week,” said Ateneo mentor Bo Perasol during the post game interview. “This is also tough for Kiefer and Von, but they still managed to play their best game.”
Alfonzo Gotladera contributed nine points and eight rebounds while Nigerian Chibueze Ikeh added eight points and 12 rebounds with two blocks for the Blue Eagles, whose win-loss record improved to 3-1.
Rookie combo guard Batiller posted 19 points and Chris Javier had 17 for the Red Warriors, whose win-loss record fell to 2-2.