PJ Palacielo drained key baskets down the stretch as National University secured at least a playoff for a Final Four seat in the UAAP Season 85 men's basketball tournament with a 70-61 win over University of the East on Thursday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The rookie scored eight of his 10 points in the fourth quarter, including a layup with 38.7 seconds left that gave the Bulldogs a comfortable 10-point lead, 68-58.
See Jerom Lastimosa out for remainder of UAAP Season 85
He also produced three rebounds and two assists for the Bulldogs to push their standing to 8-3 after their third straight win.
"Hindi na namin iniisip muna yung Final Four. Ang iniisip kasi namin kung nasaan kaming posisyon kasi kahit papaano, in order na mapunta kami sa level na yun, kailangan itaas pa rin namin ang level of comnpetitiveness namin," said coach Jeff Napa.
John Lloyd Clemente added 10 points and two boards, Jake Figueroa chimed in nine points, five rebounds, and two dimes, and John Galinato also scored nine.
Omar John also grabbed 11 rebounds to go with his eight points.
UE dropped back-to-back games to fall to 4-7.
Gani Stevens paced the Red Warriors with 14 points and five boards, while Luis Villegas got 13 points, five rebounds, four assists, and three steals in the loss.
NU 70 - Clemente 10, Palacielo 10, Figeuroa 9, Galinato 9, John 8, Malonzo 7, Enriquez 6, Manansala 5, Baclaan 2, Yu 2, Mahinay 2, Minerva 0, Padrones 0.
UE 61 - Stevens 14, Villegas 13, Payawal 12, Pagsanjan 7, K. Paranada 6, N. Paranada 5, Sawat 4, Tulabut 0, Remogat 0, Antiporda 0, Gilbuena 0.
Quarterscores: 16-13; 35-24; 48-39; 70-61.