By: Denver del Rosario
MANILA – The UP Fighting Maroons suffered a convincing defeat today against the NU Bulldogs, 51-66, in their second round match up in the UAAP Men’s Basketball Tournament at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
With the game’s outcome, UP dropped their 12th loss in 13 outings and failed to reach the three wins Coach Rey Madrid guaranteed before the season kicks off.
“Well, it was so close, not discounting that we still have to beat Adamson,” Madrid said. “We were two free throws away of beating Ateneo, one of the powerhouse teams, just to show that it is not far off wishful thinking.”
NU’s Alfred Aroga spearheaded his team with 18 points, averaging an impressive 75 percent field goal success rate, while teammates Angelo Alolino, Jeth Rosario and Glenn Khobuntin added nine each.
Point guard Mikee Reyes led the Maroons side with 13 points, while Henry Asilum and JR Gallarza contributed 11 and 9 points, respectively.
Rodolfo Alejandro sank a basket to build a 10-point lead for the Bulldogs, but Mark Juruena ended the first quarter with a trey cutting the deficit to seven, 8-15.
A Nico Javelona triple extended the lead to eight and not long after Tristan Perez scored a put-back to give NU a 10-point advantage, 14-24.
Asilum waxed hot from the rainbow country to cut the lead but the Bulldogs converted the last five points to take a 29-17 edge going to halftime.
Gallarza started hot in the third quarter as he scored four points to trim the lead to eight, 21-29.
However, the Bulldogs went on to a 20-12 run to end the third quarter with a conclusive 18-point deficit, 50-32.
The Bulldogs kept the Maroons at bay with a big 25-point lead, 60-35, courtesy of a back-to-back jumpers from Aroga and Khobuntin.
The Maroons rallied a 9-0 run in the final minutes of the game via a Gallarza trey and basket from Reyes to no avail, 51-66.
The Maroons will face the Adamson Soaring Falcons for their season-ender match hoping for a repeat first round win.
UP – Reyes 13, Asilum 11, Gallarza 9, Dario 8, Juruena 4, Vito 2, Moralde 2, Lao 2
NU – Aroga 18, Alolino 9, Rosario 9, Khobuntin 9, Javelona 5, Celda 5, Perez 4, Diputado 3, Betayene 2, Alejandro 2
QUARTER SCORES: 8-15, 17-29, 32-50, 51-66