On Wednesday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena, National University picked up where it left off by defeating Ateneo de Manila University, 78-74, to get back on the winning track.
Since September 11, 2016, or since Season 79, when Rev Diputado and Matt Salem led the former to a 70-60 victory against the latter, the Bulldogs have not defeated the Blue Eagles.
“At last, napunta rin sa amin ‘yung swerte. Kumbaga for the past few games yung swerte hindi napupunta sa amin although we worked hard,” said NU coach Jeff Napa.
“Happy ako na nag live up sa challenge na naman ‘yung mga batang ito. Sabi ko nga diba kailangan mag-step out sila sa shadow ko,” the second-year Bulldogs head coach continued.
With 46.7 seconds left on the clock, Blue Eagles Kai Ballungay and BJ Andrade scored four points in a row to tie the score at 72.
On the opposite end, though, Jolo Manansala made a layup to give the Bulldogs the lead once more (74-72) before Mike Malonzo blocked Dave Ildefonso’s attempt on the subsequent play.
Kean Baclaan was next brought to the line by Ateneo, where he split his free throws before Malonzo made another defensive stop. While still outside of bounds, he flicked Andrade’s inbound to the latter to reclaim control.
With 15.5 seconds left before Ange Kouame made a layup with 5.1 seconds left, Malonzo was then put to the test at the line, splitting his charities as well, 76-72.
However, Patrick Yu sealed the victory for the Bulldogs by making 2-of-2 free throws.
In just 20:42 of playing time, Manansala emerged as the game’s unsung hero with 17 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, two steals, and two blocks.
John Lloyd Clemente and Omar John each scored nine and eight points, with the latter also pulling down seven rebounds, while Baclaan added 10 points.
The Blue Eagles dropped to 5-3 while NU improved to 6-3 for second.
For the Blue Eagles, Andrade scored 21 points, and Kai Ballungay added 15 points, nine rebounds, and four steals. Ildefonso contributed another 14 points and 10 rebounds.
The Bulldogs’ following game will take place on Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum versus Far Eastern University. Ateneo will play rival De La Salle University to end the evening at 6:30 p.m.
NU 78 — Manansala 17, Baclaan 10, Clemente 9, John 8, Yu 6, Minerva 6, Malonzo 5, Enriquez 5, Palacielo 4, Figueroa 3, Galinato 3, Mahinay 2, Tibayan 0, Tulabut 0.
Ateneo 74 — Andrade 21, Ballungay 15, Ildefonso 14, Garcia 6, Koon 4, Lazaro 4, Chiu 3, Gomez 3, Kouame 2, Padrigao 2, Quitevis 0.