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Sports

NU alive; UE out despite fifth win

Abac Cordero - The Philippine Star

Games Wednesday (Smart Araneta Coliseum)

2 p.m. – UE vs UP

4 p.m. – FEU vs La Salle

 

MANILA, Philippines - Defending champion National University held FEU scoreless in the final two minutes last night and came out with a 70-68 win that kept its Final Four hopes kicking in the 78th UAAP men’s basketball at the MOA Arena.

Nico Javelona and Angelo Alolino hit the biggest baskets in the homestretch, first from the three-point area and then from eight feet, as the Bulldogs won the game they couldn’t afford to lose.

It was a thrilling battle between last year’s finalists. NU notched its seventh win in 14 games while FEU slipped to 10-3 but still assured of a twice-to-beat edge in the Final Four.

Hitman Mike Tolomia sank three straight triples in the dying minutes, the last one giving FEU a 68-65 lead with 2:17 remaining. But the Tamaraws failed to score the rest of the way, missing shots from near and far.

The Bulldogs are now hoping and praying for an FEU win over La Salle (6-7) on Wednesday for an easy way to the Final Four.

“We knew how important this game was. And the boys wanted to do the job. Winning this game was very important,” said NU coach Eric Altamirano.

“We’re waiting for the result of the next game because our destiny depends on that game,” added Altamirano of the FEU-La Salle encounter.

If La Salle wins that one, the Green Archers will face the Bulldogs in a playoff for the final slot in the Final Four.

Earlier, University of the East stunned an error-prone Ateneo, 74-69, and for a while the Warriors entertained hopes of making it to the semis.

The NU win, however, slammed the door on UE, even if it beats University of the Philippines on Wednesday. The Warriors are out of the semis race with a 5-8 mark.

The Bulldogs tied the count at 68 on Javelona’s triple and regained the lead at 70-68 on Alolino’s short basket. The Tamaraws had a couple of chances to tie or win the game.

But their shots wouldn’t fall – even from Tolomia, who earlier hit three-point shots in front of his defenders but couldn’t sink a layup in the end.

Big men Clark Derige and Christopher Javier delivered the baskets for UE, which pulled off the close win after blowing a 14-point lead early in the third quarter.

It was a bitter loss for the Blue Eagles who were denied a crack at the twice-to-beat advantage. They will head to the Final Four in third spot at 9-5.

Kiefer Ravena had a game-high 28 points, including a high-flying layup that gave Ateneo, which had 25 turnovers in the game, a 57-53 lead with 7:47 remaining.

ACIRC ATENEO BLUE EAGLES BUT THE TAMARAWS CLARK DERIGE AND CHRISTOPHER JAVIER ERIC ALTAMIRANO FINAL FINAL FOUR GAME GAMES WEDNESDAY LA SALLE
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