National University (NU) tamed University of Santo Tomas (UST), 75-64, to strengthen its Final Four bid in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 77 men’s basketball tournament on Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Bulldogs claimed their ninth win in 13 games to share the No. 3 spot with defending champion De La Salle University (9-4). They are behind the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles and the Far Eastern University Tamaraws, who both tote a 10-3 mark.
UST fell to a 5-8 slate.
NU got 14 points from Gelo Alolino, 13 from Reden Celda, 12 from Glenn Khobuntin, 11 from Nico Javelona and 10 from Troy Rosario.
Earlier, season host University of the East (UE) shocked La Salle, 68-66, to stay in hunt for the remaining Final Four slot.
UE remained at fifth with an improved 8-5 card.
Bong Galanza once again powered the Red Warriors with 21 points and seven rebounds while Roi Sumang chipped in 14 markers, two assists and five steals. Chris Javier added eight points and six boards.
“It’s a big win for us. We just refused to lose. It was a character game for us, we kept our poise. It’s a total team effort. We need to keep fighting to stay alive [in the Final Four race], we’re still not yet ahead,” said UE head coach Derrick Pumaren.
Last season’s Finals Most Valuable Player Jeron Teng led the Green Archers with 23 points, nine rebounds and four assists, and Almond Vosotros and Julian Sargent scored 11 and 10, respectively.
NU and La Salle will be disputing the third Final Four slot on Saturday while UE must win against UST on Tuesday to force a playoff for the last Final Four spot.