NU rips UE, gains share of lead
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – The National University Bulldogs survived an emotional encounter with the UE Red Warriors to gain a share of the lead in the 76th season of the UAAP men’s basketball tournament.
NU warded off a surging UE squad in the fourth quarter to walk away with an 81-73 victory at the Araneta Coliseum on Saturday.
Without suspended players Charles Mammie and Lord Casajeros, UE had a hard time containing NU’s Emmanuel Mbe who came out with a double-double performance of 18 points and 11 rebounds.
Bobby “Ray Ray” Parks added 18 points to help the Bulldogs tie the FEU Tamaraws at the top of the standings with an 8-3 record.
The Bulldogs took advantage of the absence of UE’s key players for a 41-31 halftime lead.
The Warriors responded with a 10-2 run in the third quarter with Ralf Olivares carrying the fight for UE.
Olivares, however, was called for his fifth foul shortly before the end of the third. He was later involved in an altercation in the final quarter when he bumped NU’s Jeoffrey Javillonar who was chasing the ball near the Warriors’ bench.
The whole UE team was called for a technical foul due to the commotion.
The Warriors came back again in the fourth quarter when they got within two points. But Mbe immediately put out the fire and sparked an 11-4 rally that gave the Bulldogs a 68-59 lead.
NU coach Eric Altamirano said he was glad that his squad maintained their composure during the emotionally-charged game.
“Coming into this game we knew that Mammie and Casajeros will not play. We knew also that UE will come out with a lot of emotions, They're going to use that as a motivation for this game. There were some parts of the game that I felt we lost our composure but the good thing is we were able to gain it back,” said Altamirano during the post-game interview.
Mbe for his part, said they just played the game, even without Mammie or Casajeros in mind.
“I knew Mammie wasn't there, but we prepared not against Mammie we prepared as a team, we prepared against UE. So we played our game and not think about who's not there, who's there. It's UE, we thank God for this victory,” said the Cameroonian.
Mammie and Casajeros were suspended for two games for attacking FEU’s Terrence Romeo.
The UAAP technical board later downgraded Casajeros’ ban to one game following UE’s appeal.