Nu Bulldogs In Final Four For First Time In Seven Years

Nu Bulldogs In Final Four For First Time In Seven Years

Nu Bulldogs In Final Four For First Time In Seven Years: After seven years, National University (NU) finally qualified for the UAAP Final Four of the men’s basketball tournament by defeating the University of Santo Tomas (UST) 67-57 on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Jeff Napa, the coach at NU, is fully aware of what this signifies.

What follows? Tomorrow’s training session is a must. When facing La Salle, we must be prepared. In our final two games of the second round, we must be prepared. Because a Final Four appearance is not our only goal. The same action and pattern would be followed, Napa remarked in Filipino.

Nu Bulldogs In Final Four For First Time In Seven Years
NU Bulldogs’ John Lloyd Clemente.

Nu Bulldogs In Final Four For First Time In Seven Years

Despite the victory, Napa wasn’t overly pleased because his highly anticipated Bulldogs initially trailed the toothless Tigers by as many as 11 points before coming back to win their fourth straight game and raise their record to 9-3.

“Bad win for us, but [we] still got the job done against this UST side, which played under no time constraints. They caused us a problem despite playing their hearts out. It’s a good thing we were able to regroup and recover to win in the second half,” Napa remarked.

John Lloyd Clemente scored 19 points, including a dagger corner three-pointer to complete a 12-0 run for a 64-54 advantage with 1:51 left. Clemente last participated in the Final Four while still a high school student in 2018.

After that, the Tigers were doomed to suffer their 10th defeat in 11 games.

Napa doesn’t want his team to let up in their final two games since placing second after the eliminations will give them a clear advantage in the playoffs even if defending champion University of the Philippines still has the top slot.

Clemente, who made four of his seven attempts from beyond the arc, agrees with his coach.

As coach Jeff stated, we still have a lot of lapses to correct. The level of competitiveness is at its greatest, particularly in the Final Four and our final two games, so we won’t get comfortable, he added.

Omar John led NU with 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting, and Kean Baclaan added 10 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds as the team capitalized on UST‘s 15 mistakes to score 14 points.

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Eagles in the close win

Ange Kouame helped Ateneo overcome a 19-point hole earlier on in the game so they could edge Far Eastern University (FEU) 71-65 and advance to the Final Four with an 8-3 record and stay in the top two battle.

Kouame overcame the Tamaraws’ 39-20 lead early in the second quarter with 20 points, 14 rebounds, three assists, and a block. At the end of the third, he scored 10 points to trim the Far Eastern lead to 54-49.

After Paul Garcia’s triple with 8:34 left, Ateneo stretched it to a 20-1 run and took the lead for the first time, 56-55. Prior to Kouame capping an 8-0 Eagles run for a 64-61 lead going into the final 2:28, Xyrus Torres gave FEU the lead back with back-to-back three-pointers to recover the lead, 61-56.

After pushing them to their limits, FEU coach Olsen Racela received appreciation from Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin.

“I don’t have to explain how difficult it was to anyone. You all observed that. Baldwin remarked, “Olsen prepares his team superbly as usual. He seems to do a terrific job getting ready for us. We consistently manage to avoid FEU. Given that they usually appear to be so well-prepared for us and that winning against them. It always feels like an escape act, that must be incredibly difficult for the FEU coaching staff and players.

Guard Forthsky Padrigao, who contributed 13 points, six assists, five rebounds, and a steal, was also crucial. Dave Ildefonso ended with eight points and nine rebounds, while BJ Andrade contributed nine points.

“To be completely honest, that victory was just the result of guts and competent play in the fourth quarter. But before that, we actually weren’t that good at the majority of the game. Our defense finally anchored itself in the second half of the third quarter and stopped them.

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