NATIONAL University is back in the finals while University of Perpetual Help booked its first-ever ticket to the championship game on Thursday in the 19th Fr. Martin Summer Cup basketball tournament.
Alfred Aroga and Emmanuel Mbe stepped up in the absence of injured Bobby Ray Parks Jr., and fired 14 and 12 points, respectively, as the Bulldogs stopped the University of the Philippines Maroons, 67-63, in their semifinal encounter at the Trinity University of Asia gymnasium in Quezon City.
The Altas meanwhile, held off the Adamson Falcons with their zone defense to prevail, 57-54, in the other semis pairing and earn their first finals stint in a preseason tournament in seven years.
With their eighth consecutive triumph, the Bulldogs reached the finals for the second time in three years, and will fight for the crown with the Altas at 11 a.m. on Sunday also at the TUA gymnasium in Quezon City.
Ivan Villanueva struck for 18 points in leading the Letran Squires to a 70-66 win over Xavier School in the junior semifinals.
The Squires will clash for the championship with the San Beda Red Cubs, who got 14 points from Ranbill Tongco in beating La Salle-Zobel, 74-63.
In women’s side, La Salle got 14 points from Inna Corcuera as the Lady Archers blasted Fatima University, 96-35, last May 26.
They now face Far Eastern University in the women’s finale, according to commissioner Robert de la Rosa.
Parks, who is recovering from an ankle injury he sustained while in Australia with the Bulldogs last week, watched from the stands as Mark de Guzman and Cedrick Labing Isa sank crucial baskets in the last 90 seconds as NU broke a tight 63-all contest.
Harold Arboleda fired 12 points, including nine in the first period, as the Altas took an 18-10 lead right away before settling for a 31-21 halftime edge.
The Falcons, who showed up with Jing Ruiz calling the shots in lieu of Leo Austria, rallied to overtake the Altas, 51-50, in the last quarter behind the efforts of Ingrid Sewa and Jericho Cruz.
But the Altas slowed them down with their zone defense and regained the upperhand, 56-51, in the last three minutes off a pair of baskets from Juneric Baloria and rookie Nestor Bantayan.