GAMES ON SUNDAY
(Mall of Asia Arena)
2 p.m. – DLSU vs. UP (M)
4 p.m. – AdU vs. ADMU (M)
UPDATE - Heading into the game, National University coach Eric Altamirano reminded his Bulldogs one simple advice: Stay relaxed and focused.
However, it was University of the East which initially showed up with poise and composure under the bright lights of the state-of-the-art Mall of Asia Arena. But back-to-back treys from Bobby Ray Parks to open the second period were all the Bulldogs needed to turn a tight game into a laugher.
Banking on a torrid second-quarter onslaught, the Bulldogs lived up to their pre-season hype with a masterful 90-55 victory over the Red Warriors and set their title bid in the UAAP Season 75 men’s basketball championship in motion before a mammoth Saturday crowd of 17,761 at the newly-constructed sports and entertainment venue.
This, as the Warriors supposedly plan to protest the outcome due to alleged uniform violations committed by the Bulldogs.
Parks, the reigning MVP, collected 16 points, six boards and as many assists while forward Jeoffrey Javillonar had team-highs of 19 points and 11 rebounds for the Bulldogs, who ripped the game wide open with a decisive 35-point output against the Warriors’ measly eight for a comfortable 48-23 cushion at the break.
Guard Gelo Alolino, who made the game’s first basket with a lay-up at the 8:34 mark, finished with 12 markers and seven assists while reserves Spencer Rosario and Mark De Guzman, a prized transferee from College of St. Benilde, came off the bench and combined for 18 points, 13 boards, five assists and three steals for NU, this season’s host which is bidding to snap 58-year men’s title drought.
The victory also marked the most lopsided decision in the opening day since Far Eastern University defeated University of the East 89-61 in July 10, 2004.
Roi Sumang emerged as the lone bright spot for the Warriors with a game-best 21 markers, 10 coming in the opening quarter, on top of five rebounds, four steal and three assists.
No other UE player reached double figures in points, with Sam Razon and Pedrito Galanza settling for eight apiece.
“My first reminder on them was ‘to stay relaxed and focused’,” noted Altamirano, now on his second year. “We played very well, collectively. Everybody stuck to our game plan. And the boys were very disciplined.”
Very much, especially with their transition attack.
Anchored on a suffocating full-court pressure, the Bulldogs forced 21 Warrior turnovers and gamely translated them into 22 points off errors en route to a whopping 28-to-nothing edge in fastbreak points.
“It (offense) starts with our defense. It initiates our offense,” added Altamirano.
“It’s really fun to play with them,” stressed Parks. “Everybody knows their roles. Just give them confidence and they’ll be doing (everything) to the best of their abilities. We’re a family here and we play for each other.”
That’s precisely what the Bulldogs showed after starting center Emmanuel Mbe was initially prevented by game officials to play due to an ‘incomplete’ uniform.
“Hindi napansin ni Sean (Mbe) na walang numero sa harap ‘yung uniform niya,” disclosed Altamirano. “Kaya kinuha pa mula sa school ‘yung isang set.”
With Mbe, a 6-foot-8 Cameroonian, cautiously watching from the bench, the Warriors gamely pounced on his absence and leaned mainly on the steady plays of Sumang, who capped his splendid opening quarter showing with a buzzer-beating trey for a 15-13 lead.
That, however, just ignited the fire in the eyes of the Bulldogs.
With Parks fully asserting himself, the Sampaloc-based cagers also employed an airtight defense that fully pushed the Warriors out of their comfort zones while scoring with ease.
The Bulldogs sustained their charge from then on and posted their biggest lead at 88-48 off a jumper from Tristan Perez with less than 50 seconds in the game.
The Red Warriors shot a horrible 26 percent from the field, compared to the Bulldogs’ 40.2 percent clip.
A few minutes after the game ended, UE reportedly planned to place the game under protest on the grounds that some of the Bulldogs' uniforms were lacking the logo of sponsor Anta. Initial reports indicated it was only Mbe who had a mismatching uniform, but later on the Warriors reportedly claimed that a few other NU players also had the same problem with their uniforms.
"They have to make a proper challenge, " said NU athletic director and UAAP Board secretary Junel Baculi when asked about UE's planned protest. "They have to submit first to the Board."
Baculi, though, admitted that sometimes uniform logos can come off inadvertently. "It happens, sometimes due to poor quality."