Playing without pressure and looking to get some momentum for next season, National University routed playoff-bound University of Santo Tomas, 73-49, preventing the Tigers from getting the third seed in the 74th UAAP men’s basketball tournament at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum Sunday.
Most Valuable Player candidate Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. had another sensational showing, finishing with a game-high 22 points, eight rebounds, six assists, and three blocks, while his partner Emmanuel Mbe had 14 points and 13 rebounds for NU.
“We really wanted to end the season on a high note,” said first-year NU coach Eric Altamirano. “We built confidence and use it as a stepping-stone for the next season.”
The Bulldogs finished their season with two straight wins, which pushed them to a fifth place finish with a 6-8 win-loss record.
NU started strong, zooming to an 12-point lead at the end of the first quarter, 23-11. UST, which was missing suspended Cameroonian center Karim Abdul, managed to slice the deficit to only four points, 29-25, at the half, but the Bulldogs regained control in the second half and never looked back.
They started the third period with an 8-2 run to get their double-digit lead back, 37-27, before winning the quarter, 18-10, for a comfortable 47-35 lead heading into the final period.
The Tigers, who saw their four-game winning run snapped, were unable to orchestrate a solid rally in the fourth. The Bulldogs’ dominated completely, leading by as much 27 points, 73-46, after Parks’ unbelievable circus shot with 11.7 seconds left in the game.
With the loss and Far Eastern University’s victory over La Salle on Sunday, the Tigers fell to fourth place. Awaiting them in the final four is three-time defending champion Ateneo, which is still hurting from its first loss of the season on Saturday.
A different UST team, however, figures to show up in the playoffs with Abdul, the squad’s tower of power, back in the lineup.
Jeric Teng led the Tigers with a team-high 19 points.
NU 73 – Parks 22, Mbe 14, Javillonar 9, Labing-Isa 8, Singh 6, Rono 5, Alolino 5, Neypes 4
UST 49 – Teng 19, Fortuna 8, Lo 7, Camus 5, Vigil 3, Pe 2, Ungria 2, Aytona 2, Ferrer 1
Quarters: 23-12, 29-25, 47-35, 73-49