by Jonas Terrado
The long agony of the National University Bulldogs came to an end yesterday.
Whether it would be enough for them to remain in the Final Four race remains to be seen.
Matt Salem rediscovered his shooting stroke and scored 11 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter as the Bulldogs snapped a six-game losing skid by beating the University of the East Red Warriors, 64-52, in the resumption of the UAAP basketball tournament at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Salem led a telling 18-0 run in the payoff period, helping NU turn a 50-46 deficit with over seven minutes remaining into a 64-50 lead near the final minute of play to finally score a win that came after a stirring of frustrating losses.
The Bulldogs improved to 5-8, but are still 1 1/2 game behind the Adamson Falcons for fourth spot with one game to play. Incidentally, they face the same team in their final elimination round meeting on Nov. 13.
“It’s been a very long dryspell for us. We don’t know the significance of this result but it’s important that we got back to the win column,” said NU coach Eric Altamirano.
J-Jay Alejandro, who added 10 points, seven rebounds, six assists and three steals, perhaps summed up the frustrating stretch NU endured for the last month, including the 10-day break in observance of All Saints Day.
“Nagkakainitan na kasi sobrang competitive,” said Alejandro. “Lahat mainit ang ulo, mga coaches at mga players. Yung one week (na break), parang one year sa amin.”
Salem found his rhythm again after his scoring dipped during the skid. He hit three triples during the run, the last giving the Bulldogs a 64-50 lead with 1:23 to play.
“It was a good win. We went through the storm but maybe that’s God plan to put us in this position,” said Salem.
Also stepping up was rookie guard Chino Mosqueda, who had 11 points and four rebounds in 20 minutes.
Alvin Pasaol had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds but the Red Warriors dropped to 2-10.
NU 64 – Salem 20, Aroga 11, Mosqueda 11, Alejandro 10, Morido 6, Rangel 4, Diputado R. 2, Yu 0, Salim 0, Diputado C. 0, Pate 0.
UE 52 – Pasaol 10, Mañalang 7, Bartolome 6, Abanto 6, Varilla 5, Batiller 5, Derige 4, Charcos 3, Olayon 2, Gagate 2, Acuno 2, De Leon 0, Palma 0.
Quarters: 9-12; 32-32; 44-45; 64-52.