WHEN Paul Matthew Manalang took charge in the second period, the Nazareth School-National University Bullpups pulled away and never looked back.
The Bullpups went on to hand the University of Santo Tomas Tiger Cubs their third straight setback following a 109-75 swamping Sunday at the Arena in San Juan.
“Kailangan maging maganda ang decision-making ko sa game,” said Manalang, the team’s skipper after the Bullpups posted their eighth win in 10 games in the 80th University Athletic Association of the Philippines Junior Basketball Tournament.
With the 5’9” Manalang leading the way with the 25 points, three rebounds, five assists and a steal, the Bullpups went on to assure themselves of a Final Four semifinal seat.
Manalang was at the forefront of a 19-5 blast at the start of the second period with his back-to-baskets.
With big man Paolo Javillonar effectively manning shaded lane, NU turned a 25-26 first-quarter deficit into a 44-31 lead.
Javillonar finished with nine points and a game-high 10 rebounds, while Rhayan Amsali had 13 for NU.
“Gumanda ang defense. Nakagawa kami ng stops,” said Bullpups’ coach Goldwyn Monteverde.
The Bullpups joined the Ateneo Blue Eaglets in claiming a semis berth.
Ateneo, which came up with its lowest output this season, edged the defending champion Far Eastern University-Diliman Baby Tamaraws, 68-65, on Saturday.
Making 38.7 percent from their field goals, the Blue Eaglets got winning charities from Enrico Manuel in the dying seconds.
Manuel, the younger brother of former University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons cager Jet Manuel, went on to finish with 12 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists and a steal.
The Blue Eaglets were led by SJ Belangel with 20 points and Kai Sotto with 16 points and 10 boards.
Later during the same playdate, the Adamson University Baby Falcons got 20 points from Jose Sabandal as they turned back the University of the East Junior Warriors, 72-66, to force a three-way tie in third place with UST and FEU-Diliman at 5-5.