National University clipped defending champion Ateneo de Manila University, 70-65, to secure the first twice-to beat advantage in the Final Four of the UAAP men’s basketball tournament Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Two-time Most Valuable Player Bobby Ray Parks Jr. powered the Bulldogs with 24points, seven rebounds and a couple of steals. Backing him up was Cameroonian Emmanuel Mbe 17 points and 12 boards.
NU wrapped up its elimination campaign with a 10-4 card, while Ateneo’s hopes of making it to the Final Four faded as it dropped to fifth place with 7-6.
Earlier, Far Eastern University routed University of the Philippines, 87-69, for its 10th win in 14 games.
Terrence Romeo scored 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 the 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 was also 10-4, the same as NU. But the Bulldogs have a better quotient, automatically giving them the twice-to-beat edge.
FEU could officially claim the second twice-to-beat card if De La Salle University (9-4) beats University of Santo Tomas (7-5) 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.
EMIL C. NOGUERA