National University (NU) clipped defending champion Ateneo de Manila University, 70-65, to secure the first twice-to beat advantage in the Final Four of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 76 men’s basketball tournament.
Two-time Most Valuable Player Bobby Ray Parks Jr. powered the Bulldogs with 24 points, seven rebounds and a couple of steals while Cameroonian Emmanuel Mbe contributed 17 points and 12 boards on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
NU wrapped up its elimination campaign with a 10-4 mark while Ateneo dimmed its hopes of making it to the Final Four as it dropped to fifth place with 7-6.
Earlier, Far Eastern University (FEU) routed University of the Philippines (UP), 87-69, to get its 10th win in 14 games.
Terrence Romeo notched a career-high 33 points on top of nine rebounds and five assists while Mike Tolomia added 15 markers, four rebounds and five assists for Tamaraws.
“We have learned our lessons as a team and as individuals. This season has been very unpredictable. What is more important is to get the Top 2,” said FEU mentor Nash Racela. “We’re satisfied, but we’re still working on some things.”
FEU also rolled to 10-4 mark along with NU. But the Bulldogs have a better quotient points than the Tamaraws enabling NU to automatically get the important twice-to-beat edge.
FEU could officially claim the second twice-to-beat card if University of Santo Tomas (7-5) beats De La Salle University (9-4) on Saturday.
Joseph Marata led the Fighting Maroons with 23 points on 4-of-9 shooting clip in three-point area while Raul Soyud chipped in 14 points and 18 rebounds.
UP remained winless with its 13th straight loss.
In the women’s division, the NU Lady Bulldogs outplayed the FEU Lady Tamaraws, 66-63, while the Adamson University Lady Falcons survived the La Salle Lady Archers, 54-52.