NU taints UP’s perfect record in UAAP Season 85 duel

NU continues to roll and takes down UP. (

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

The National University Bulldogs nabbed one of its biggest wins of the ongoing UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball tournament after taking down the defending champion University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons, 80-75.

After decimating the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers during their last game, the surging NU Bulldogs showed they got enough gas left in the tank to fend off UP and hand them their first loss of the tournament.

It was a usual strong start for the Fighting Maroons after superstar Carl Tamayo went firing from all cylinders including back-to-back three-pointers that helped them establish the early lead of the game.

However, the Bulldogs’ run-and-gun style immediately put them within striking distance and refused to enter the second half with a double-digit deficit.

A huge turn-around then happened in the third quarter after NU went unconscious from the shooting field and quickly ballooned its lead to 12 points, 54-42.

The Bulldogs’ defensive adjustments did wonders for them in the first four minutes of the third quarter after collecting several steals off help defense sequences at the top of the key that rewarded their points in the fast break.

Just when the Bulldogs thought they could snowball their way for an easy victory, the Fighting Maroons’ never say die attitude rose to the occasion and sparked the team in the closing minutes of the third frame.

Successive UP baskets stunned the Bulldogs in just a blink of an eye that capped off an insane 22-4 scoring run with 1:09 remaining in the third.

The shocking turn of events helped the Fighting Maroons regain the lead, 66-60, and entered the final frame with oozing confidence.

When NU needed a spark, it was Omar John who carried the responsibility and led the Bulldogs’ counter-run in the fourth quarter.

John’s interior baskets ignited NU’s 15-1 scoring run midway in the fourth that helped them retake the lead back, 75-67.

Tamayo attempted to rally the Fighting Maroons’ comeback after hitting a clutch three-pointer to cut the NU lead to just three points, 78-75, with 1:13 remaining in the slugfest.

However, it was also Tamayo who missed the wide-open layup underneath that could’ve trimmed NU’s lead to just a point with 26 seconds left.

Fouled with 13 seconds left, NU’s savvy point guard Steve Nash Enriquez made sure there will be no UP comeback this time and cashed in all of his free throws to extend their lead to five, 80-75.

John led NU with a big-time performance of 16 points, nine rebounds, three blocks, and three assists while Kean Baclaan chipped in 13 points, four rebounds, four dimes, and three steals.

Energy guy Jake Figueroa also showed up and contributed 10 points, five rebounds, five assists, two steals, and two blocks.

Meanwhile, Zavier Lucero top-scored UP with 22 points and eight rebounds while Tamayo had another double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds.