National University weathered Ateneo’s spirited comeback to pull off a 68-64 win and complete an unbeaten run to the 2nd PCABL Jumbo Plastic Linoleum Cup title on Saturday at the Philippine Buddhacare Academy gym in Quezon City.
The Bullpups, who secured the No. 1 seeding after completing an eight-game sweep of the elims, got off to a hot start by racing to a 19-6 lead at the end of the first quarter but encountered some scary moments in the payoff period when the Eaglets produced several spurts to get back in the thick of things.
NU, however, refused to be intimidated with Rhayyan Amsali and Justin Baltazar producing clutch baskets to quash Ateneo’s comeback and complete a 10-game sweep of the tournament.
The title win bodes well to NU’s UAAP campaign as it intends to regain the crown it lost to Ateneo last season.
NU, which led as many as 18 points, was led by John Clemente who sizzled for 17 points, including 12 in the second quarter, while Baltazar and Amsalo collected 13 and 12 points, respectively.
A veteran of the PH under-17 and under-16 teams, Jolo Mendoza led Ateneo’s uprising in the fourth frame by exploding for 10 of his 19 points. But his efforts went for naught as Finals MVP Amsali and Baltazar came to NU’s rescue by combining for 10 points in the fourth.
Meanwhile, deposed champion Chiang Kai Shek College salvaged some measure of respect by scoring a 65-64 thriller over Far Eastern University in the event also backed by Smart Telecom, Advance Solutions Inc., Hapee Toothpaste, Fed Seal, Powerhouse, CW Home Depot and Powerbest Marketing.
Jefferson dela Cruz, marketing manager of Jumbo Plastic Linoleum awarded the championship trophy to the Bullpups.
Baltazar emerged as the tournament MVP and led the Mythical Selection that included teammate Joshua JugarMendoza, Javier De Liano and Allen Gozum of University of the Philippines Integrated School.