MANILA, Philippines – National University unleashed a fourth-quarter surge to stun defending champion Ateneo, 77-64, in the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball opener on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Bulldogs opened the payoff period with a 10-0 run, capped by Michael Malonzo’s basket, for a 65-47 lead with 6:49 remaining.
Donn Lim’s hook shot and Patrick Yu’s triple made it the largest lead of 20 points, 70-50, with 3:55 to go as Ateneo didn’t score a field goal for more than six minutes until Sean Quivis stopped the bleeding and cut the deficit to 18. .
NU never looked back, handing Ateneo its first opening day loss in five years since the season 81 opening loss to Adamson.
But coach Jeff Napa insisted their first win will mean nothing in their bid to surpass their previous bronze finish from last season, shifting their focus against Far Eastern University on Wednesday.
“Itong panalo na ‘to, wala lang naman ‘to e. Wala namang silbi ‘to eh. Doesn’t mean kung ano man ditto e. Just a win. We just continue to push ourselves to the limit to give the best performance to play legitimate Dabarkads,” Napa said after the match.
“Naka-tsamba siguro kami against a stronger team, so we have to prepare for FEU. We will shift our focus against the FEU.”
Yu led the Bulldogs’ balanced attack with 12 points on 3-of-4 three-point shooting. Steve Nash Enriquez had 10 points and two assists. Kenshin Padrones had nine points, while Jolo Manansala and PJ Palacielo each added eight markers and five rebounds.
Kean Baclaan contributed four points and four rebounds and dished out eight assists, while Omar John and Jake Figueroa each had seven points, while Malonzo and Lim added six each.
NU missed its first 10 shots from the three-point line, but finished the game with seven triples to join co-opening day winner University of the East.
Guards Quietvis and Gab Gomez led Ateneo with 12 points, while Ian Espinosa contributed 10 points, three rebounds and two assists.
The defending champions, without graduates Ange Kouame, Dave Ildefonso and BJ Andrade and the ineligible Forthsky Padrigao, drew just four points from Kai Ballungay, who missed all six of his shots from the field.
Prized recruit and Gilas cadet Mason Amos had just two marks on 1-of-4 shooting in 17 minutes of action as they tried to bounce back against archrival La Salle.
NU coach Jeff Napa, Kean Baclaan and Jake Figueroa after beating Ateneo in the #UAAPSeason86 opener.
Posted by Researcher Sports on Saturday September 30, 2023
NU (77) — Yu 12, Enriquez 10, Padrones 9, Manansala 8, Palacielo 8, John 7, Figueroa 7, Malonzo 6, Lim 6, Baclaan 4, Jumamoy 0, Casinillo 0, Delos Reyes 0, Gulapa 0, Parks 0 , Galinato 0.
Ateneo (64) — Gomez 12, Quietvis 12, Espinosa 10, Lazaro 6, Bongo 5, Credo 4, Koon 4, Ballungay 4, Brown 3, Amos 0, Obasa 0, Chiu 0, Nieto 0, Celis 0.
Quarter scores: 23-15, 36-32, 55-47, 77-64