JOHN Clemente scored on a breakaway lay-up with 4.2 seconds left as National University eased past De La Salle-Zobel, 59-57, on Saturday at the Blue Eagle Gym to extend its winning streak to 19 games in the UAAP juniors basketball tournament.
Clemente’s go-ahead lay-up capped a Bullpups comeback from a 50-55 deficit in the final three minutes and saved the reigning UAAP champions fromtheir first defeat since losing to the Jerie Pingoy-led Far Eastern University Baby Tamaraws in the 2012 Finals.
NU won all of its 16 games last season en route to the crown and has now won its first three games this season.
De La Salle-Zobel had the chance to gain the lead in the endgame but Joaquin Banzon missed the bonus free throw on a three-point play opportunity, 57-57.
NU then corralled the rebound and Clemente was left unmarked to score the game-winner.
Jordan Sta. Ana had 12 points while Mark Dyke added 11 points and 17 rebounds for the Bullpups, who joined Ateneo on top of the standings with a 3-0 win-loss card. Clemente finished with 11 points.
Mike Nieto and Jolo Mendoza combined for a crucial five-point swing as the Blue Eaglets defeated Far Eastern University-Diliman in overtime, 76-73, to also remain unbeaten.
Nieto hit the go-ahead free throws, 74-73, before Mendoza made a jumper with 51 seconds left to settle the final score for the Blue Eaglets.
On the next possession, Marvin Lee missed a potential game-tying triple, his 15th miss from beyond the arc, for the Baby Tamaraws, who lost a 60-65 lead in regulation to bow to their first loss after three matches.
FEU held the five-point lead with three minutes left in the fourth but Matt Nieto split his two free throws with 9.1 seconds left to complete the Ateneo comeback and force overtime.
Nieto had 22 points followed by Mendoza, who had 16 markers for the Blue Eaglets.
Rob Aquino had 21 points while Christian Fajarito had 14 points and 15 rebounds for the Baby Tamaraws but lost after making only four of 29 shots from three-point range and committing 30 turnovers.