ALFRED Aroga buried a fadeaway jumper in the final 14.7 seconds as National University eked out a close 55-54 win over erstwhile unbeaten University of Santo Tomas, its first in Season 78 of the UAAP seniors basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena Saturday.
In a battle between the league’s top and bottom teams, it was the winless Bulldogs who came through as Aroga’s basket over the outstretched arm of Karim Abdul put the reigning champions in front for good.
The Tigers failed to connect on the next possession as Kevin Ferrer committed a turnover with six seconds left before the Bulldogs hang on the rest of the way.
Aroga’s heroics finally put the Bulldogs in the win column after going 0-3 to start their title retention bid.
“We are very thankful for this first win,” said NU coach Eric Altamirano. “I know we had to go through a lot in our first three games. But the boys were very positive coming from that Ateneo loss.
“They vowed to come back for this game. It was very evident that they played with a lot of heart. We were controlling the game early on. UST caught up. They got the momentum and at least hanged on to get this victory.”
The win did not come in handy though as NU survived a scoreless drought - a 15-0 UST run -that bridged the third and fourth quarters and put the Tigers in front, 48-41.
The Bulldogs, however, ended the game behind a 10-2 blast capped off by that Aroga game-winner.
After a 3-0 start, UST lost for the first time this season and now shares the lead in the team standings with Ateneo, which won in the first game over University of the East, 77-72.
Kevin Ferrer had 14 points and 11 rebounds, while Karim Abdul added 11 points for the Tigers, who only got nine from the league leading scorer Ed Daquioag.
NU (55) - Aroga 19, Alejandro 9, Abatayo 8, Diputado 7, Neypes 6, Alolino 2, Salim 2, Javelona 2, Lastimosa 0, Celda 0, Javillonar 0, Tansingco 0.
UST (54) - Ferrer 14, Abdul 11, Daquioag 9, Lao 8, Lee 6, Vigil 3, Bonleon 3, Sheriff 0, Faundo 0, Subido 0, Huang 0.
Quartersores: 17-17; 33-26; 41-43; 55-54.