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Bulldogs regain pole position in win over DLSU Archers, 80-76

NU Bulldogs caught another big fish in La Salle. — PHILPPPINE STAR/ RUSSELL PALMA

Games On Saturday(Ynares Sports Antipolo)1 p.m. — UP vs UST4:30 p.m. — AdU vs DLSU

RAMPAGING National University’s (NU) meteoric rise reached another height as it caught another big fish in La Salle, 80-76, on its way to regaining the pole position in the UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball tournament yesterday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Four players uncorked twin digits led by Steve Nash Enriquez and John Lloyd Clemente with 16 points apiece as the Bulldogs charged their way to fourth straight win for a 5-1 card.

Mr. Enriquez added three rebounds and three assists while team captain Mr. Clemente collared 10 boards for NU, which in return ended a seven-year losing skid against La Salle.

The Bulldogs, who also got ample support from Omar John (15-12) and John Figueroa (12), last won against the Green Archers back in Season 78 in 2015, 81-73, to further prove its emergence as one of the UAAP’s major forces this season.

Prior to slaying La Salle, NU also claimed the scalp of reigning champion UP to snatch the top spot for a running capital in its Final Four drive nearing the second elimination round.

“La Salle is also one of the big boys so it’s sigh of release for us. We’re down midway through the third but we found ways to flip the momentum to our favor. We turned the game around,” said coach Jeff Napa as his wards continue to prove their UAAP contender status after sweeping the Filoil preseason.

The Bulldogs showed that grit and heart by unleashing a 15-5 rally to flip a 42-51 deficit to a 57-56 cushion late in the third that it went on to preserve in spite of a spirited La Salle comeback attempt in the end game.

Mr. Clemente took NU home with a game-icing freethrow in the waning seconds after Kevin Quimbao’s clutch trey to push the Green Archers to within 76-79.

Mr. Quimbao (15), Mike Phillips (15) and Evan Nelle paced (14) paced La Salle (3-3) as Schonny Winston bled for a season-low of 12 points after fouling out.

Meanwhile, Kai Ballungay unloaded a career-high of 21 points as the vengeful Ateneo (4-2) vented its ire on Adamson (2-4) to solidify place inside the Final Four after bowing to rival UP last weekend. — John Bryan Ulanday

The Scores:

First Game

NU 80 — Clemente 16, Enriquez 16, John 15, Figueroa 12, Malonzo 6, Baclaan 5, Yu 4, Galinato 2, Manansala 2, Mahinay 2, Minerva 0, Tibayan 0, Palacielo 0, Tulabut 0, Padrones 0.

La Salle 76 — Quiambao 15, M. Phillips 15, Nelle 14, Winston 12, Abadam 7, Nwankwo 4, Manuel 3, Estacio 3, Cortez 2, B. Phillips 1, Escandor 0.

Quarterscores: 23-17, 40-41, 61-63, 80-76.

Second Game

ATENEO 76 — Ballungay 21, Ildefonso 15, Gomez 8, Chiu 7, Padrigao 5, Lazaro 5, Kouame 4, Andrade 4, Garcia 3, Koon 2, Ong 2, Daves 0, Quitevis 0, Fetalvero 0, Fornilos 0, Lao 0.

ADAMSON 55 — Lastimosa 18, Douanga 8, Torres 6, Manzano 5, Flowers 4, Jaymalin 3, Fuentebella 3, Yerro 2, Barasi 2, Barcelona 2, W. Magbuhos 2, V. Magbuhos 0, Colonia 0.

Quarterscores: 22-16, 41-32, 61-47, 76-55.

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