NATIONAL University is one victory away from the UAAP Season 76 juniors basketball crown after the Bullpups defeated Ateneo, 101-93, in overtime Monday morning at The Arena in San Juan.
The Bullpups, outright finalists after winning all their elimination round games, kept their slate unbeaten after winning their 15th game of the season. They need only a victory on Wednesday to seal their second title in three years.
NU had to rally in the final stretch of regulation, scoring 11 unanswered points in the final three minutes, before going on a 9-2 start in overtime to take the victory.
Hubert Cani had 24 points, including a free throw that capped off the Bullpups’ comeback to tie the contest at 86 with 31 seconds to play.
Manuel Mosqueda had 22 points, John Cauilan added 13 and Lorenzo Battad chipped in with 13 points.
The three also scored in the fourth-quarter run to erase a 75-86 deficit.
Mark Dyke contributed 16 points and 20 rebounds, taking over in the extra period by scoring six.
Aaron Black, son of Talk ’N Text head coach Norman Black, had a game-high 30 points for Ateneo.
Matthew Nieto had 18 points while juniors Most Valuable Player Thirdy Ravena had 14 points, 13 rebounds, and 13 assists.
The Blue Eaglets will now have to win three straight games to beat the Bullpups for the crown.
NU (101) – Cani 24, Mosqueda 22, Cauilan 17, Dyke 16, Battad 13, Go 4, Grealy 3, Castillo 2, Manalang 0, Lopena 0, Lapiz 0.
Ateneo (93) – Black 30, Ma. Nieto 18, Ravena 14, Mi. Nieto 11, Mendoza 10, Escaler 8, Jose 2, Ramos 0, Magpoc 0, Calilung 0.
Quarterscores: 21-25; 37-45; 57-66; 86-86; (OT) 101-93.