National University (NU) needed a strong push in the end game to silence University of Santo Tomas (UST), 94-84, and get back on the winning track in Season 80 University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men’s basketball on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Bulldogs rode on the solid game of Senegalese center Issa Gaye and the contribution of the bench to bounce back from a sorry loss to De La Salle University to improve their win-loss record to 2-1.
Gaye finished with 17 points, 13 rebounds, nine on the offensive end, and swatted four blocks to anchor NU’s strong finish and keep UST winless after three starts.
Dave Yu anchored the bench’s 65-point contribution with 13 markers including a crucial three-pointer that capped the Bulldogs’ 13-6 exchange for a 90-84 spread with 1:45 remaining in the game.
“Coming into this game, I really felt it will be a hard one. Down 0-2, we knew Coach Boy (Sablan) and the rest of the team will come out and play their best game,” said NU head coach Jamike Jarin, who also drew 12 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists from veteran Jay Alejandro.
“It was a hard-fought game. They (UST) controlled the entire game. We were able to make a run and held on to it,” he added.
Regie Basibas paced the Espana-based squad with a career-high 23 points and was responsible in keeping UST in the game.
His late explosion in the third canto gave the Growling Tigers their biggest lead at 73-68 before settling for a 73-70 lead entering the fourth,
It was a see-saw battle in the fourth period with UST still holding a slim 78-77 lead before the Bulldogs unleashed a telling 13-6 run capped by Yu’s triple off the pass from Alejandro to make it a 90-84 game for NU.
The Growling Tigers turned a couple of possessions in the next plays to absorb their third straight loss in the tournament.
Jordan Sta. Ana was the only other UST player in double figures with 14 while Steve Akomo was held down to just five markers in 22 minutes.
NU 94 – Gaye 17, Yu 13, Alejandro 12, Mosqueda 11, Bartlett 9, Salem 7, Cauilan 5, Joson 4, Abatayo 4, Aquino 3, Morido 3, Diputado 3, Lastimosa 3, Flores 0, Tibayan 0, Rangel 0
UST 84 – Basibas 23, Sta. Ana 14, Faundo 9, Arana 8, Escalambre 8, Akomo 5, Lee 4, Huang 4, Macasaet 4, De Guzman 3, Kwawukumey 2, Caunan 0, Romero 0, Soriano 0, Lorenzana 0
QUARTER SCORES: 25-24, 51-50, 70-73, 94-84