National University extended its winning run to five games after surviving the challenge from struggling University of the East, 64-61, in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 86 men’s basketball tournament yesterday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Kean Baclaan was clutch for the Bulldogs as he drained back-to-back shots, a layup and a three-pointer, to make a 57-61 deficit to a 62-61 lead with 2:30 left.
Red Warriors Ethan Galang and Precious Momowei missed their chances late as Jake Figueroa put the insurance free throws with 5.3 seconds left.
Without a timeout left, UE ran the length of the court but failed to take a shot before the time expired. The Red Warriors failed to score a point in the final three minutes and 27 seconds of the game. “We need this kind of challenge from UE to prepare us for the next obstacles coming into the second round. I was a hard-fought win, at least good comeback,” NU coach Jeff Napa said.
In the first game, Most Valuable Player race frontrunner Kevin Quiambao flexed his might as De La Salle University sent University of Santo Tomas crashing with a 100-69 victory to open the second round.
Quiambao, the 22-year-old sophomore, delivered 22 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, five steals, and a block in 23 minutes and nine seconds.
“We’re focused on what’s in front of us and we’re trying t correct the mistakes we had in the first round. Coming into the second round, we have to adjust and stick more into our system,” said Quiambao, last season’s Rookie of the Year.
Raven Cortez, JC Macalalag, Bright Nwankwo, and Quiambao teamed up for a Green Archers’ lead-expanding run in the final two minutes of the second quarter to turn a six-point margin into a 52-38 advantage at the half.
The Bulldogs took the provisional hold of top spot at 7-1, half a game ahead of University of the Philippines, which still has a game later in the day against Adamson University.
Baclaan had 18 points and five rebounds while Figueroa made 12 points.
The Red Warriors, on the other hand, saw their losing skid stretched to five games for a 2-6 record at seventh.
Noy Remogat delivered an all-around game of 18 points, eight steals, seven rebounds, and seven assists in 35 minutes and 46 seconds while Nigerian center Precious Momowei, who leads the Rookie of the Year race, also contributed 15 points and 11 rebounds for UE.