NATIONAL University booked a return trip to the UAAP Juniors basketball finals after dominating University of Sto. Tomas, 91-72, on Tuesday at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan.
Terrence Fortea and Miguel Oczon led a 17-1 run bridging the first and second quarters as the Bullpups opened a 32-17 lead and never looked back.
Fortea, a former Batang Gilas standout, notched eight points in that stretch while his teammates kept reigning MVP CJ Cansino in check to set up the stage for a blowout.
The Bullpups are in the finals for the seventh year in a row, arranging a battle with the Ateneo Blue Eaglets who gained an automatic spot in the championship following a 14-game sweep of the elimination round.
The best-of-three affair starts on Friday at 4 p.m.
"I'm very happy about this. Every transition has its challenge, I'm lucky that these players responded well ang maganda rito we worked hard," said NU head coach Goldwin Monteverde who took over the reins from Jeff Napa before this season began.
Five players notched double digits for the Bullpups led by Fortea who had 17 points in just 16 minutes off the bench.
Oczon added 16 points as Pao Javillonar bannered the Bullpups interior with 13 points, 16 rebounds and two blocks.
Rhayan Amsali chipped in 12 while Matthew Manalang had 11 points and six assists.
Cansino was held to his season low, finishing with just 10 points on 4 for 14 shooting.
"Pag UST ang kalaban mo si CJ talaga ang titignan mo. Kailangan pag aralan kung paano siya stoppin. Not individual, kailangan buong team talaga ready to stop him," Monteverde said.
RJ Baquial and Jezreel Villapando led the Tigerpups with 16 points apiece.
NU 91 – Fortea 17, Oczon 16, Javillonar 13, Amsali 12, Manalang 11, Coyoca 8, Gonzales 4, Pangilinan 4, Minerva 2, Malonzo 2, Vinoya 2, Dayrit 0, Felicida 0.
UST 72 – Baquial 16, Villapando 16, Lina 10, Cansino 10, Narvasa 10, Anunciacion 6, Palencia 2, Dolendo 0, Manabat 0, Relucio 0, Estrella 0, Dela Cruz 0, Benzonan 0.
Quarterscores: 21-17; 45-31; 67-51; 91-72.