NU squeaks past UE behind Aroga’s dominance
MANILA, Philippines - Alfred Aroga said it best: "Everything that matters is the team. We don't care about personal stats. We just care about helping each other."
Aroga was the best player on the court on Sunday afternoon, August 3, but he got a lot of help too as the NU Bulldogs escaped past the UE Red Warriors, 57-55, at the Araneta Coliseum.
Aroga finished with 18 points and 15 rebounds, while Glenn Khobuntin and Jeth Rosario combined for 25 and 13.
Pedrito Galanza and Roi Sumang led the Red Warriors with 16 markers each.
"It was a tightly contested game," said NU Coach Eric Altamirano after the game. "It could have gone either way."
He also complimented his team's strong chemistry, which was guided them to a 5-1 record after today.
"They're trying to play for each other."
Gelo Alonino finished with 6 points and 4 rebounds, while Tristan Perez recorded 4 markers.
The Bulldogs bounced back quick to start the third quarter after trailing by five heading into the break. Not feeling the pressure of the Red Warriors' press, NU managed to get within one, 32-31, following an Aroga basket.
The ball continued to bounce off the rim for UE, which got good looks but failed to convert. Sumang also started to go cold along with Galanza and Chris Javier, paving the way for National U to extend their lead to four, 36-32, after a Khobuntin and-one play.
An acrobatic reverse layup by Sumang finally broke University of the East's drought, but Perez countered right away with a turnaround hook shot. In the dying seconds of the third quarter, a floater by Khobuntin counted just in time to give the Bulldogs a 42-36 lead entering the final period.
NU threatened to run away with the game after a Perez bucket extended the lead to eight. However, UE's Sumang-less lineup caught fire from the outside, as jumpers from Galanza, Dan Alberto, and Emil Palma spearheaded a 12-0 run to make the count 50-46 in favor of UE with under six minutes left.
The Red Warriors pushed the lead to as much as six by getting easy transition baskets, but NU rallied and took advantage of multiple offensive rebounds. With 3:30 to go, Alonino was left open and converted an easy 3-ball to put his club back on top, 55-54.
An Aroga bucket would push the deficit to three for UE before Sumang split his charities to make the count 57-55. With 17.1 seconds remaining, the Red Warriors got the ball back, though Sumang failed to convert his layup, sealing the loss for his team.
"They refused to lose," the NU coach said after the game about his boys.
National U will aim to finish their first round campaign with a 6-1 record by taking down the FEU Tamaraws.
"FEU is playing very well," Altamirano remarked about the Tamaraws. "They're also sharing the ball... We have to prepare really well for them."
The Bulldogs finished with 40 bench points to UE's 21, further showing how deep the team is.
"We're unpredictable," the NU coach commented on his team's depth.
National U also shot more FTs that UE, going 11-of-19 from the stripe.
Scoring 13 of their team's first 15 points, Sumang and Galanza helped the Red Warriors build an early lead over the Bulldogs.
Consecutive long-range jumpers from Alberto then added to UE's great start, as the team rode a 20-12 lead entering the second quarter.
However, the Red Warriors lost their lead at the midway point of the second period, as an Aroga layup capped off an 9-0 Bulldogs run.
After going minutes with their offense stagnant, Sumang finally broke the dry spell with a jumper to give his team a 22-21 lead. The explosive scorer would also be responsible for four more points before halftime, giving his club a 28-23 lead after 20 minutes of action. - Rappler.com