NU Bulldogs beat UP Maroons to boost Final Four hopes, put pressure on La Salle
Gelo Alolino scored a career-high 26 points for the NU Bulldogs. Jerome Ascano

GELO Alolino scored a career-high 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as National University defeated University of the Philippines, 75-69, on Sunday in the UAAP Season 78 men’s basketball tournament at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

The Bulldogs raised their record to 6-7 (win-loss) to boost their bid for a Final Four spot with one game remaining in their elimination round, putting pressure on La Salle (5-7).

Alolino was once again clutch for the Bulldogs in the fourth quarter, hitting a three-pointer to douse UP’s rally before scoring back-to-back layups that put the game away, 70-62.

UP dropped to 3-9 and bowed out of contention for a playoff spot.

Alfred Aroga had 15 points and 17 rebounds for the Bulldogs, who now find themselves in the thick of the fight for the fourth and last berth in the semifinals in what has so far been a roller-coaster campaign.

“I was very happy with the way we played today. The key to this game was our defense. We were able to assert ourselves in the fourth. You have to give it to UP, they were a tough nut to crack. Talagang we were really tested in this game. Good thing they stepped up in the second half,” NU coach Eric Altamirano said.

UP was in contention for the most part of the game and even took a 31-28 third quarter lead. The Maroons were outscored 11-24 in the third but they again fought back to within three points, 60-63.

Alolino took over from there as he scored 12 points in the fourth quarter alone.

Jett Manuel and Diego Dario had 13 points each for the Maroons.

The scores:

NU (75) — Alolino 26, Aroga 15, Neypes 7, Celda 7, Salim 6, Alejandro 4, Javillonar 3, Yu 3, Javelona 2, Morido 2, Diputado 0, Abatayo 0.

UP (69) — Manuel 13, Dario 13, Desiderio 10, Amar 9, Kone 6, Moralde 4, Asilum 4, Gallarza 4, Harris 2, Lim  2, Longa 2, Jaboneta 0, Juruena 0, Webb 0.

Quarterscores: 13-18, 28-31, 52-42, 75-69.

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