Reigning UAAP MVP Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. and the NU Bulldogs booked a huge win after holding off fellow final four hopefuls La Salle, 72-62, in Season 75 action of the UAAP Sunday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Parks fired off 32 points and grabbed eight rebounds in another strong showing for NU as the Bulldogs overtook their victims for the fourth spot in the standings. NU moved up to 7-4 while La Salle fell to 7-5.
A big second quarter for the Bulldogs gave NU a 10-point lead, 36-26, at the halftime break.
Parks dominated the third quarter, scoring 17 big points in the period to help his team open their biggest lead of the game at 53-37.
But Almond Vosotros scored eight points in the last minute and a half of the quarter as La Salle cut it down to a more manageable 11 points heading into the fourth quarter.
La Salle made a challenge early in the fourth, cutting the deficit down to single digits after a basket by Vosotros. But Parks continued to wax hot in the quarter, scoring six of the next 10 NU points, including a pair of jump shots that barely beat the shot clock for the Bulldogs.
At the 4:11 mark, Parks was blocked on the inside but tracked down the ball just in time to sink a jumper, giving NU a 63-52 lead. Emmanuel Mbe then made a huge defensive stop, then ran down the floor and was rewarded, scoring an easy two that pushed their lead back up to 13. Vosotros answered with a big triple on the other end that made it 65-55 with just 3:36 to play.
But Parks came up big again, beating the shot clock with a crucial jumper that put the Bulldogs up by 12 with just two minutes on the clock.
La Salle rookie Jeron Teng tried to shoot his team back into the game, but the Green Archers could only come as close as nine points, 71-62, with 16.3 seconds remaining.
Teng scored 20 points while Vosotros added 13 points, all in the second half.
Parks, who is only on his second year in the league, had his sixth 30-point game of his career.
“It’s not about the points. My teammates helped me get those shots. I just try to do my job for the team. I try to contribute as much as I can either offense or defense,” said Parks.
“Most important thing is we won the game.”
The win gives the Bulldogs a slight edge on the Green Archers with only a handful of games left to play.
“We knew coming into the game how important this game is,” said NU coach Eric Altamirano. “Talagang everybody was mentally and physically prepared for this game.”
NU still has games against Ateneo and UP on the schedule, as well as the replay of their loss to FEU. La Salle faces Adamson and FEU in their last two assignments.
NU (72) – Parks 32, Alolino 11, Rosario 6, Khobuntin 6, De Guzman 6, Mbe 4, Javillonar 4, Villamor 3, Singh 0, Rono 0, Betayene 0.
La Salle (62) – Teng 20, Vosotros 13, Van Opstal 7, N. Torres 6, Mendoza 4, T. Torres 3, Manguera 3, Andrada 2, Tampus 2, Revilla 2, Webb 0.
Quarterscores: 15-15, 36-26, 56-45, 72-62.