NATIONAL University beat Ateneo, 70-58, on Monday to take Game One of the UAAP Season 81 juniors basketball finals at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
Carl Tamayo and Kevin Quiambao asserted themselves against Ateneo’s Kai Sotto, while Terrence Fortea put on the finishing touches to the NU win as the Bullpups moved one victory away from dethroning last year’s champions.
Tamayo had 15 points and 12 rebounds, while Quiambao added 14 points and 13 rebounds after being tasked to guard Sotto for the most part of Game One before Fortea added 11 points after playing only three minutes in the first half.
“Nung first half, parang nagmamadali kami sa execution. Siguro sobrang excited din ng mga players pero buti nakabawi kami nung second half,” said NU coach Goldwin Monteverde.
Tamayo hit a triple and Gerry Abadiano converted a lay-up to start off a 7-0 run to claim a 44-38 lead in the third quarter, which Ateneo failed to overhaul as NU took a 53-45 advantage heading into the fourth.
Sotto had 16 points, 15 rebounds, and five blocks, but had to earn every shot against Tamayo and Quiambao. Geo Chiu added 12 points and 11 rebounds, but it was not enough for Ateneo, which will look to force a rubber match on Friday at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
Ateneo sorely missed Forthsky Padrigao, who only had four points and shot 2 of 13 from the field.
The Blue Eaglets had a strong start and posted a 30-25 lead at halftime, but fell short as they lost to the Bullpups for the third time this season.
NU 70 – Tamayo 15, Quiambao 14, Fortea 11, Abadiano 11, Gonzales 9, Felicida 9, Torres 1, Alarcon 0, Javillonar 0, Dayrit 0, Mailim 0.
ATENEO 58 – Sotto 16, Chiu 12, Fetalvero 11, De Ayre 7, Diaz 5, Padrigao 4, Espinosa 2, David 1, Jaymalin 0.
Quarters: 14-11; 25-30; 53-45; 70-58.