REV Diputado and Nico Javelona kept high-scoring teammate Joshua Alinino on the bench on Saturday with their defense on Ateneo star Kiefer Ravena.
The duo also gave National University a lift offensively.
Bulldogs coach Eric Altamirano said it was an easy decision to go with the two back-ups in the endgame when the team was trying to hold off Ravena and the Blue Eagles from mounting a last-ditch comeback.
“We felt that in the end, we needed to focus on defense, making stops, stop Kiefer, and pressure the point guard," said Altamirano after the Bulldogs' 64-60 win over the previously unbeaten Blue Eagles.
"In the last few minutes, they (Diputado and Javelona) were really doing a good job. They were controlling the tempo of the game. We thought of keeping them until the end of the game,” he added.
The move paid off.
Diputado, a rookie out of San Beda, scored 10 points for the Bulldogs. Javelona only had six points but played good defense on Ravena by limiting him to a 3-of-20 shooting from the field.
The two accounted to more than half of NU’s 28 bench points as compared to Ateneo’s 16 and converted four of their final six free throws to clinch the win.
“We really committed to playing team defense against Ateneo. Alam naman natin na hindi kami offensive team kaya we rely on sheer defense,” said Altamirano.