Defending champion National University (NU) pummeled Far Eastern University (FEU) 70-68 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.
Guard Gelo Alolino, who finished with 20 points plus four rebounds and three assists, scored the go-ahead jumper with 33.5 ticks left in the game to seal the Bulldogs’ win. It was NU’s seventh victory in 14 games.
The win also entitled the Bulldogs to a playoff berth for the No. 4 spot in the Final Four just in case La Salle wins over FEU in the last day of the elimination round on Wednesday.
If De La Salle University (6-7 win-loss record) loses on Wednesday, NU (7-7) will automatically clinch the No. 4 spot of the Final Four.
“We know how important this game is,” said NU coach Eric Altamirano. “Winning this game is very important that’s why I’m so proud of my boys because they trust the system. It came down to a possession game and I’m very happy that we won this game.”
Despite the loss, FEU still secured the second twice-to-beat advantage with a 10-3 win-loss record.
Mike Tolomia led the Tamaraws with 23 points with five triples.
In the first game, University of the East (UE) through a solid second and fourth quarter performance beat Ateneo De Manila University 74-69.
Clark Derige posted 17 points via 5-of-10 shooting in the field plus five rebounds, while Chris Javier finished with 13 points, five rebounds and one assist.
The Red Warriors win-loss record dropped to 5-8.
NU’s victory over FEU already eliminated UE in the Final Four race.
“We are fighting for survival. Even if we have a slim chance [of reaching the Final Four], we still need to finish strong,” UE coach Derrick Pumaren told reporters during the post-game interview. “We just have to go all-out in our final game.”