NAZARETH School of National University vented its ire on defending champion Ateneo, 78-62 to end the first round on a high in the UAAP Season 81 juniors' basketball tournament Saturday at Blue Eagle Gym.
The Bullpups bounced back from their shock 62-59 loss to Adamson last Wednesday and gained retribution over the Blue Eaglets in the Finals rematch to end the year.
Terrence Fortea pumped 17 points, six rebounds, and three steals off the bench, as Gerry Abadiano provided support with his 16 points, five boards, and two assists in the win.
Carl Tamayo also made his triumphant return for NU with 13 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks to stifle MVP frontrunner Kai Sotto in the paint.
The Bullpups ended the first round on top with their 6-1 card, while the Blue Eaglets fell to 5-2.
NU wiggled away from Ateneo's grasp in the first half, unleashing an 11-3 finishing kick in the third frame from a slim 50-49 advantage to a 61-52 lead.
The Bullpups further pounded on the Blue Eaglets, opening the payoff period on an 11-2 blast to take a 72-54 lead as the game was put beyond reach.
NU survived a foul-plagued showing which saw Ateneo rewarded with 66 freebies.
What worked in the Bullpups' favor was their defense, limiting the Blue Eaglets to an 11-of-41 field goal shooting, as well as turning Ateneo's 35 turnovers to 25 points.
Sotto led Ateneo with 23 points, 13 rebounds, four blocks, and three assists.
Ian Espinosa contributed 17 points, seven boards, two assists, and two steals in the losing cause for the Blue Eaglets, which are set to welcome back lead playmaker Forthsky Padrigao for the second round.
NU 78 -- Fortea 17, Abadiano 16, Tamayo 13, Gonzales 8, Alarcon 7, Quiambao 5, Enriquez 5, Vinoya 2, Dayrit 2, Mailim 2, Felicilda 1, Torres 0, Javillonar 0, Songcuya 0, Buensalida 0.
ATENEO 62 -- Sotto 23, Espinosa 17, Fetalvero 7, David 5, Salandanan 4, Diaz 2, Jaymalin 2, Chiu 2, De Ayre 0, Coo 0, Corral 0, Narciso 0.
Quarters: 16-16, 33-29, 61-52, 78-62.