UAAP: NU far from satisfied after booking Final Four berth

NU Bulldogs’ Jake Figueroa.–MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines — National University earned its second straight Final Four appearance after beating skidding Far Eastern University, 68-57, in the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball tournament on Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Bulldogs used a second-half surge to dispatch the Tamaraws and join fellow league leader University of the Philippines in the semifinals with identical 9-2 records.

NU, however, is far from satisfied.

“We’re in the Final Four but it doesn’t end here. We have a goal and a dream that we want to achieve. That’s why we always challenge ourselves so we will be able to gauge our team of how far we can reach,” said NU coach Jeff Napa in Filipino. “Like in the US NCAA, we still have March Madness. We’re setting the right mindset because every game counts. We have something to look forward to.”

Napa, who took over last Season 84 and missed the Final Four, proved that they belong to the “Big Boys” in Season 85 by making the semifinals before getting eliminated by UP.

This year, the Bulldogs are eyeing to go further with Napa’s wards focused on their ultimate goal.

“As coach Jeff said, we always have to move forward and take it one game at a time that’s why we’re hungry because we want to reach far this season,” said third-year player Jake Figueroa in Filipino.

NU coach Jeff Napa UAAP

NU coach Jeff Napa.–MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

Figueroa led the balanced attack of NU with 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting and six rebounds. Jolo Manansala and PJ Palacielo were also instrumental with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Mike Malonzo contributed with nine points and seven rebounds. Kean Baclaan chipped in seven points, seven assists, four rebounds, and three steals, while Omar John also scored seven and grabbed 14 boards.

“We’re blessed because we got the win. All the credit goes to our players they really stepped up, especially in the second half. They showed their desire to get the win. Although there were a few lapses, their mindset to recover right away and awareness to make up for their mistakes were there,” Napa said.

FEU suffered its third straight loss, dropping to a 3-8 record. L-Jay Gonzales, who cried after the defeat, had 14 points and 11 rebounds in a losing effort.

Xyrus Torres and Jorick Bautista had 11 and 10 points, respectively, for the Tamaraws.

The scores:

NU (68) – Figueroa 15, Manansala 11, Palacielo 10, Malonzo 9, Baclaan 7, John 7, Lim 5, Jumamoy 2, Gulapa 2, Yu 0, Parks 0, Casinillo 0, Delos Reyes 0.

FEU (57) – Gonzales 14, Torres 11, Bautista 10, Sleat 8, Añonuevo 6, Tempra 4, Faty 3, Ona 1, Bagunu 0, Competente 0, Felipe 0.



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Quarterscores: 21-18, 37-32, 58-46, 68-57

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