Defending champion National University (NU) halted the late rally of Ateneo de Manila University en route to a 76-72 win in Game 1 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 77 juniors basketball championship series on Friday at The Arena in San Juan City.
Mark Dyke had a monster game, nailing 20 points, hauling down 17 rebounds and denying three attempts for the Bullpups with John Clemente backing him up with 17 points and seven rebounds.
“Given na si Mark. Ang importante mag-step up ‘yung ibang players,” said NU head coach Jeff Napa.
Philip Manalang chipped in 14 points while Justine Baltazar was limited to just three points but made his presence felt in the shaded lane as he grabbed 17 boards and had six blocks.
Season’s Most Valuable Player Michael Nieto led the Blue Eaglets with 25 points and eight rebounds, and Matthew Nieto and Lorenzo Mendoza added 19 and 14 points, respectively.
To retain the title, the Bullpups need to win thrice against the top-seeded Blue Eaglets, who swept the 14-game elimination round.
The Game 2 is set on Tuesday at the same venue.