By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The National University (NU) Bulldogs just proved how hungry they are this season after shocking the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Blue Eagles, 77-64, in the opening game day of the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball tournament last September 30, 2023.
It was a balanced effort from the whole NU squad as 10 of their players entered the scoring column to hand a rare opening loss to the defending UAAP champions.
Ateneo clinched a slim 9-6 lead in the first quarter but Kean Baclaan quickly erased their deficit after going aggressive to the basket.
After NU retook the lead at 13-9, there was just no stopping the Bulldogs attack as they immediately pounced on the struggling Ateneo team.
Steve Nash Enriquez was also majestic for the Bulldogs as his huge third quarter helped NU take control of the ball game and balloon their advantage to as much as 20 points.
During that crucial stretch, Enriquez fired eight points built from two long three-pointers and a fancy layup from the right lane.
As NU continued to pile up the points in the fourth, Ateneo failed to cut it to single digits and just had no answers to the Bulldogs’ spitfire performance.
Patrick Yu led the charge for the Bulldogs after dropping 12 points backstopped by Enriquez who contributed 10 markers.
On the other hand, it was a disappointing debut for the Blue Eagles as they struggled to chip away the lead the whole game.
Head coach Tab Baldwin emphasized their lack of fight against NU and will look to go back to the drawing board to avoid a 0-2 start in their title defense campaign.