Matt Salem grateful to NU Bulldogs guards as he sustains late-season resurgence
Matt Salem deflects the credit for another good offensive performance, saying the NU playmakers allow him to make his shots. Marlo Cueto

MATT Salem made light of a dunk that seemed more of a tap than a rim-rattler in one of the rare instances the National University forward was able to go strong to the basket.

The shot was made over University of Sto. Tomas import Steve Akomo and the basket counted, getting Salem, not the most athletic guys in the league, some reaction from the small Sunday crowd in the San Juan arena.

"Was it not a dunk? Sayang. That's a dunk in my book," said Salem.

The jam highlighted a big game from Salem, who scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the Bulldogs’ 91-83 win over the UST - the second NU win where he was a key contributor on the offensive end.

But Salem downplayed the performance, deflecting the credit to the NU playmakers.

"I'm a role player. I don't go out there and create my own shots. The guards help me create my shots," said the 6-foot-3 Salem, who had 21 points and 10 rebounds in the Bulldogs' previous victory against University of the Philippines.

"I thank my guards for helping me get my points. They create for me, they pass the ball, they give extra passes," he added.

The guards did assert themselves in the passing game with 27 assists, eight coming from J-Jay Alejandro, who had another all-around game of 10 points and nine rebounds.

"That's where we rely on, the guards creating. I just give it to my teammates," said Salem.

Salem said the team dedicated the win to the NU coaching staff, who did well in the absence of head coach Jamike Jarin who served a suspension after getting called for two technical fouls against Ateneo on Wednesday.

Lead assistant coach Danny Ildefonso led the staff, while consultant Jeff Napa also helped out.

"It was tough when we heard coach Jamike was suspended for the next game, but we knew he will leave to to the hands of the coaching staff. We have a great coaching staff. We wanted to do it for coach Danny, coach Jeff, all of the coaches, coach Jamike. We knew he will be going to support us," said Salem.

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