Bulldogs near Last Four Archers win on Austria’s buzzer-beater  

John Bryan Ulanday - The Philippine Star
Bulldogs near Last Four Archers win on Austriaâs buzzer-beater   
NU’s John Lloyd Clemente finds an opening in their game versus the UE Warriors at the Big Dome.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — National U firmed up its grip on second spot and secured at least a playoff for one of the Final Four slots while La Salle stayed in the thick of the heated race with separate big wins in the return of the UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball tournament yesterday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Bulldogs fended off the gritty University of the East Warriors, 70-61, while the Green Archers escaped past the Adamson U Falcons, 81-78, on CJ Austria’s buzzer-beating triple.

PJ Palacielo provided the firepower in the end game, pouring eight of his 10 markers in the last four minutes to keep UE at bay and propel NU to an 8-3 card, one win away from officially sealing a Final Four ticket.

The rookie big man also added three rebounds and two assists in only eight minutes of play with John Lloyd Clemente (10), John Figueroa (9) and John Galinato (9) firing in needed help for the Bulldogs, who continued to be a major force this season.

“Hindi na muna namin iniisip ‘yung Final Four. Ang iniisip namin how we will sustain kung nasaan man kaming posisyon ngayon,” said coach Jeff Napa as NU bagged its third straight victory.

The win of NU, which led by as many as 13 points before weathering UE’s uprising, put a dent on the latter’s own playoff hopes as it slid down to 4-7.

In contrast, La Salle injected life on its Final Four hopes by snapping a four-game losing skid to climb to 4-6 – thanks to Austria’s heroics.

Sans injured ace guard and MVP frontrunner Schonny Winston, Austria stepped up to the plate and finished with a team-high 16 points, two rebounds and two steals.

Siblings Benjamin and Michael Phillips chipped in 14 apiece to backstop Austria in La Salle’s big win that catapulted it back to the tight semifinal race with Adamson at joint fourth spot.

Later, reigning champion and Final Four-bound University of the Philippines raced to a 16-1 start en route to a 73-59 win over Far Eastern U for its seventh straight and 10th overall triumph in 11 games.


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