JJay Alejandro heroics enable NU Bulldogs to survive scare from Adamson in OT thriller
JJay Alejandro exchanges high fives with NU teammate Jeoffrey Javillonar after a big basket in the match against the Adamson Falcons. Jaime Campos

JJAY Alejandro stepped up in overtime to help National University snap a three-game losing skid with an 85-79 win over Adamson in the UAAP Season 78 men’s basketball tournament at the Araneta Coliseum.

Alejandro hit four crucial free throws in regulation to put NU ahead, 72-70, only to see Ivan Villanueva hit an uncontested basket off an inbound in the final seconds that sent the game into overtime.

Alejandro, however, took matters into his own hands in the extra session, scoring eight of his 22 points in that stretch including a three-point play that put NU ahead, 80-75.

The Bulldogs improved to 4-6 (win-loss) while the Falcons dropped to 1-9 to drop out of contention for the Final Four.

It was a sorry loss for the Falcons, who led 70-67 when Jerome Garcia was called for a controversial foul while Alejandro was attempting a three-pointer, then hit with a crucial technical foul for resenting the call with 22 seconds left in regulation.

Those four free throws enabled the Bulldogs to wrest control late in regulation.

Alfred Aroga had 17 points and 11 rebounds while Gelo Alolino had 17 points for the Bulldogs, who trailed by as many as 11 points before pulling off the hard-earned win.

“Happy kami although muntik pa. Still, a win is a win. Talagang kailangan namin ‘tong game na ‘to para makakuha kami ng buwelo para sa next game namin,” Alolino said.

Papi Sarr had a big game for the Falcons, finishing with 32 points and 17 rebounds. But it was not enough to carry his team to a victory.

Adamson played without Joseph Nalos, who was suspended following his ejection from the Falcons’ last game against Ateneo over the weekend.

The scores:

NU (85) — Alejandro 22, Alolino 17, Aroga 17, Javelona 11, Javillonar 7, Celda 5, Neypes 3, Yu 3, Abatayo 0, Diputado 0, Rangel 0, Salim 0, Tansingco 0.

Adamson (79) — Sarr 32, Villanueva 10, Polican 9, Escalambre 8, Bernardo 4, Fernandez 3, Ng 3, Tungcab 3, Camacho 2, J. Garcia 2, Margallo 2, Miranda 1, C. Garcia 0.

Quarterscores: 12-16, 31-36, 50-53, 72-72, 85-79.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @reubensports