NATIONAL University grabbed a share of the lead in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament with an 81-73 victory over University of the East on Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Bulldogs won their fifth straight game as they climbed into a tie for first place with idle Far Eastern University, both with identical 8-3 win-loss slate.
Bobby Ray Parks had 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Emmanuel Mbe added 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Bulldogs, who have not tasted defeat since a July 20 loss to Adamson.
“It’s hard to get momentum so we just want to take advantage,” said NU coach Eric Altamirano.
“It’s not about being first but improving every game and we just want to stay focused and stay together in the game.”
NU won as the Bulldogs took advantage of the absence of Charles Mammie and Lord Casajeros, who are serving their suspensions for this game.
“Coming into the game, we knew that Mammie and Casajeros will not play and UE will come out with a lot of emotions and use that. There were parts that we lost composure but the good thing is that we regained it,” said Altamirano.
The Red Warriors lost another piece of their offense in an emotionally-charged game when Ralf Olivares fouled out with just 57 seconds to play in the third period.
JM Noble sank a deuce to help UE close in 52-51 early in the fourth. But a key 7-0 run powered by back-to-back inside baskets by Mbe increased NU’s lead to nine. The Bulldogs made it 66-57 as Parks sank one free throw when the UE bench was also slapped with a technical foul after Olivares appeared to have elbowed Jeff Javillonar.
NU (81) – Parks 18, Mbe 18, Rono 12, Villamor 6, Rosario 6, Porter 4, Khobuntin 4, Alolino 3, Javelona 2, Alejandro 2.
UE (73) – Noble 16, Olivares 15, Sumang 10, Javier 10, Jumao-as 8, Sumido 6, Santos 5, Olayon 2, Alberto 1, Pujante 0, Hernandez 0, Flores 0.
Quarterscores: 16-14; 41-31; 52-49; 81-73.