National University stormed back from an early deficit to topple league-leaders Far Eastern University, 61-57, in UAAP Season 75 action Thursday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
Star guard Bobby Ray Parks recovered from a lackluster start, scoring 15 of his 17 points in the second half and grabbing six rebounds to help NU hand FEU its first loss after five games.
“We’ve been through a lot of tests. This test makes us a mature team,” NU coach Eric Altamirano said.
After trailing by as much as 13 points for the most part of the game, Parks ignited a 10-0 run to close the gap at one, 47-46, after the third quarter.
Jeoffrey Javillonar then opened the fourth period with a basket to give the lead back to NU, which then stretched their lead to four courtesy of a Jeth Rosario layup in the 3:31 mark.
But FEU had an answer to every NU run, with guard Terrence Romeo rifling a triple to tie the game at 57 with just 1:11 left in the game.
Parks then split his free throws after an FEU foul, giving NU a 58-57 lead. Mike Tolomia missed a triple on the other end, giving NU the chance to widen their gap.
But Parks lost the ball in their next possession which forced NU to foul FEU’s Rey Belo, who missed both free throws.
After that, Parks hit two free throws to give the Bulldogs a 60-57 lead with just 16.8 seconds left.
FEU had the chance to tie the game, but Romeo struggled in his dribble and missed a desperation triple to finally give the victory to the Bulldogs.
The triumph helped the Bulldogs forget a painful 77-71 loss last Saturday against University of Santo Tomas, in which they dominated the whole game before faltering in the final minutes.
“It was a tough game and we have to move on after a loss,” Parks said.
Center Emmanuel Mbe scored 12 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, while Rosario also contributed 12 points for the Bulldogs, whose record improves to three wins and two losses.
Romeo fired 18 points and eight rebounds to lead FEU, who now falls to a 4-1 record.