FOR most the game, the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers went toe to toe with the National University Bulldogs.
But in the end, the Bulldogs simply found a away to get past the Growling Tigers, 94-84, yesterday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Bulldogs relied on big plays by Rev Diputado, Jordan Bartlett and Dave Yu in the closing minutes to move ahead and post their second win in three games in the 80th University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball tournament.
Diputado, who only had three points, made all his three freebies count, and so did Bartlett with his three-point play.
The Bulldogs, with Issa Gaye leading with 17 points and 13 rebounds, were slightly ahead, 80-71, when the Diputado and Bartlett came into the picture.
From there, the Bulldogs took a five-point edge, 87-82, with 3:46 left.
When the Growling Tigers fought back behind Jordan Sta. Ana’s putback, the Bulldogs replied with a triple from Yu with 1:45 left, handing NU a 90-84 edge.
UST, led by Reggie Basibas with 23 points, never got a chance to come back, as Sta. Ana fouled out in the remaining time.
UST drew 14 points and 4 assists from Sta. Ana before he incurred his fifth foul with 1:32 remaining.
“Their (Tigers) record does not speak of where they are right now. It’s tough. They were controlling the game.We were able to make a run and hold on to the lead,” said Bulldogs’ coach Jamike Jarin.
Meanwhile, Ben Mbala returned with a bang, hitting 32 points and 10 rebounds for the defending champion La Salle Green Archers.
His inside presence made a difference all throughout as the Green Archers demolished the Adamson Falcons, 83-73.
Mbala, fresh from his stint with the Cameroonian national team, scored 10 points as the Green Archers easily built a 36-12 edge in the first period and then coasted to their third consecutive victory.
The win also moved La Salle to a share of the lead with Ateneo.
2 p.m. UST vs FEU
4 p.m. La Salle vs UP