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Bulldogs down Warriors

Games Saturday
(Smart Araneta)
2 p.m. – UE vs UST
4 p.m. – UP vs La Salle

National University achieved its initial goal of starting the season on the right track after holding off stubborn University of the East, 72-66, yesterday in the UAAP basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The Bulldogs sizzled to a 12-2 start, saw the Red Warriors come back to turn the game into a seesaw battle before getting the key baskets and much-needed breaks in the payoff period to win their opening match.

Cameroonian import Alfred Aroga scored 10 of his 16 points in the final quarter despite injuring his right ankle, while J-Jay Alejandro added 13 for NU, which last season opened with a 0-3 record but still made the Final Four thanks to a late push.

“Last year, galing kami sa zero. Right after the championship (in 2014), nag-start kami sa zero at ayaw namin mangyari yun. Kailangan strong start kami this year,” said Alejandro, who like Aroga is playing his final year for the Bulldogs.

Bonbon Batiller finished with 18 points but UE lost after committing key mistakes late in the fourth to drop its opening assignment.

One of those was UE’s Edgar Charcos, who fouled Rev Diputado with 1:40 left after the Warriors’ missed a chance to take the lead. Diputado made two free throws to put the Bulldogs in front for good, 67-65.

UE’s Alvin Pasaol split his two free throws to slice NU’s lead in half, before Aroga responded with a one-handed runner for a 69-66 lead with 1:19 remaining.

“I expected this to be a very tough game,” said NU coach Eric Altamirano. “I felt UE is a Final Four team, and we knew we’re in for a tough battle. I think our defense bailed us out in the fourth.”