REV Diputado and Matt Salem provided the spark as National University scored a 70-60 win over Ateneo on Sunday in the UAAP Season 79 basketball tournament at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Bulldogs grabbed their second win in as many outings for a share of the early lead with the La Salle Green Archers.
Diputado finished with 16 points, seven rebounds, three assists, and three steals, while Salem had 12 points and eight rebounds for the Bulldogs, who limited the Blue Eagles to only nine points in the third period.
NU coach Eric Altamirano said he knew the game won’t be easy against Ateneo, which dropped to 1-1.
“We knew that Ateneo is a new team and they are a young team. But they are very disciplined. We reminded the boys that we have to focus on the process and the details of our offense. I felt that it was a per-possession game.
“We turned it into a defensive game and it worked for us,” said Altamirano.
Diputado had seven points in the fourth quarter to help keep Ateneo at bay.
Salem put NU in position for the victory, scoring nine in the third period, hitting huge baskets in a big run that gave the Bulldogs a 10-point lead, 56-46.
The Bulldogs now prepare for the Green Archers in an early clash of favorites on Saturday.
Mike Nieto had 14 points for the Blue Eagles.
NU Bulldogs 70 — R. Diputado 16, Salem 12, Aroga 11, Morido 10, Alejandro 8, Salim 4, C. Diputado 4, Rangel 2, Gallego 2, Pate 1, Abatayo 0, Mosqueda 0, Yu 0, Go 0, Sinclair 0.
Ateneo Blue Eagles 60 — Mi. Nieto 14, Wong 9, Asistio 8, Ikeh 8, Ma. Nieto 7, Babilonia 4, Black 4, Ravena 2, Go 2, Verano 2, Tolentino 0, Porter 0.
Quarterscores: 20-20; 32-32; 52-41; 70-60.