NATIONAL University won its first game against a UAAP team in the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup, hacking out a tough 67-64 victory over Far Eastern University on Wednesday at The Arena in San Juan.
The defending champions remained unbeaten in four games in Group A, holding off the Tamaraws who engineered a comeback from a 13-point deficit early in the fourth.
NU watched as Terrence Romeo trimmed its lead to just one point, but the FEU guard missed a triple that would have sent the game into overtime.
“It was a tough game for us,” said NU coach Eric Altamirano. “But we expect that since we are playing FEU. I thought they played as a team.”
Alfred Aroga led NU with 20 points and 11 rebounds while Bobby Ray Parks tallied 18 points for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs earlier scored wins over San Beda, St. Benilde and Jose Rizal University, but Altamirano shrugged off the 4-0 win-loss slate.
“We are still a work in progress. Every game, we are trying to learn. (Like in the FEU game) We didn’t do a good job in our ball screens,” said Altamirano.
NU was ahead, 53-40, on Aroga’s lay-up with 8:27 in the fourth. The Bulldogs were still up, 61-54, on JJ Alejandro free throws with 1:54 remaining.
But the Tamaraws responded with back-to-back triples by RR Garcia and a running shot by Romeo at the 31.6 second-mark to get to within three points, 65-62.
The Tamaraws were able to force a turnover and Romeo was fouled and scored on goaltending call on Emmanuel Mbe with 23.9 seconds left. Romeo missed the bonus free throws but grabbed the offensive rebound that led to Carl Bryan Cruz missing a triple.
Parks converted two free throws with 6.5 seconds left for a 67-64 score.
Romeo tallied a game-high 25 points while Garcia added 14 for the Tamaraws, who dropped to 1-2.
NU (67) – Aroga 20, Parks 18, Alejandro 10, Rosario 7, Rono 4, Mbe 3, Javillonar 3, De Guzman 2, Villamor 0, Neypes 0, Javelona 0, Porter 0.
FEU (64) – Romeo 25, Garcia 14, Tolomia 6, Hargrove 5, Mendoza 4, Belo 4, Cruz 2, Escoto 2, Jose 2, Pogoy 0, Inigo 0, Dennison 0.
Quarterscores: 14-15; 33-28; 50-40; 67-64.