NATIONAL University outlasted Arellano, 68-65, to clinch the top seed in Group A of the Filoil Flying V Premier Cup on Sunday at The Arena in San Juan.
The Bulldogs erased an early deficit before proving steadier in the clutch to pull off their sixth win in seven games, while dealing the Chiefs only their second loss against five wins.
Matt Salem and Chino Mosqueda fired 15 and 11 points, respectively, to lead the Bulldogs on offense, but it was their team’s collective defensive effort that spelled the biggest difference.
Matthew Aquino and Reggie Morido also hauled down crucial rebounds that preserved the victory.
“More than the win, I was glad that showed our character,” said Bulldogs coach Eric Altamirano, whose team held the Chiefs to 38-percent shooting. “We were really struggling offensively, but nag-hold up yung defense namin, so hindi makalayo yung Arellano.”
Jiovanni Jalalon carried the Chiefs by scattering 24 points, five boards, four assists, and two steals in a losing effort.
NU 68 – Salem 15, Mosqueda 11, Aroga 7, Abatayo 7, Labing-isa 6, Aquino 6, Gallego 6, Diputado 4, Salim 4, Morido 2, Yu 0, Lastimosa 0, Go 0
Arellano 65 – Jalalon 24, Holts 9, Canete 6, Flores 5, Viloria 5, Gumaru 4, Nicholls 2, Cadavis 2, Enriquez 2, Gupilan 2, Aguilar 2, Alcoriza 2, Salado 0, Meca 0, Rivera 0, Ongolo Ongolo 0
Quarterscores: 11-18; 28-29; 48-48; 68-65.