NU escapes FEU, clinches playoff for last Final Four berth

MANILA, Philippines -- The defending champion National University Bulldogs survived a late FEU Tamaraws' fightback to eke out a 70-68 win on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena to get a hold of the fourth spot and assured themselves of at least a playoff for the last Final Four berth in the UAAP Season 78 men's basketball. 

NU's star point guard Gelo Alolino hit what proved to be the winning basket in the final 39 seconds as the Tamaraws missed on their several chances to either force an overtime or steal the victory. 

The Bulldogs, who had a rough start this season, finished at 7-7 win-loss mark to eliminate the UE Red Warriors and put the pressure on the De La Salle Green Archers (6-7) to win their final game against the slumping Tamaraws on Wednesday to force a rubbermatch for the last berth in the Final Four. 

A loss by La Salle automatically seeds NU into the Final Four opposite top seed UST (11-3).  Regardless of the result its final game, FEU is now locked at no.2 spot and will play third seed Ateneo in the Final Four. 

Mike Tolomia almost single-handedly carried the Tamaraws to victory down the stretch hitting back-to-back triples to turn a one-point deficit into a three-point lead, 68-65.  But the Bulldogs steadied down the stretch climaxing in that Alolino jumper to pull of the win.  Tolomia, on the other hand, missed a potential game-tying jumper at the buzzer. 

It was the third straight win of the Bulldogs while sending the Tamaraws, who held the top spot for the most part of the season, tumbling to their second straight loss. 


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