The Nazareth School-National University Bullpups are champions again after three seasons.
As the defending champion Ateneo Blue Eaglets began misfiring, the Bullpups stepped on the gas, and trounced the Loyola dribblers, 64-53, yesterday at the FilOil-Flying V Sports Center in San Juan.
Terrence Fortea knocked in 15 points and grabbed two rebounds for the Bullpups, who completed a two-game sweep of the best-of-three finals series in the 81st University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) junior basketball tournament.
The Bullpups hardly missed one of their key players in Gerry Abadiano who went out in the last three seconds of the third period.
“Masaya. This is my first title as a coach of NU. Isang taon na inabangan ng mga players ito,” said Bullpups coach Goldwin Monteverde, who took over from Jeff Napa two years ago. He came over from the Adamson University Baby Falcons.
The Blue Eaglets, powered by Kai Sotto with 26 points, were enjoying a 51-50 edge in the fourth period when they turned the ball over four times.
Taking advantage of Ateneo’s miscues, the Bullpups scored twice after Carl Tamayo’s penetration and after Reyland Torres drove past the 7’1” Kai Sotto, 54-51, with 3:38 to go.
The Bullpups won their fourth crown after reaching the finals in eight consecutive seasons.
The absence of Gerry Abadiano in the fourth period somehow slowed down the Bullpups offense, and Ateneo took charge, 47-45, off Sotto’s drive.
Abadiano left the court in the last three seconds of the third following unsportsmanlike foul on Sotto.
But a split freebie, followed by Cyril Gonzales’ trey kept the Bullpups ahead, 50-47, with 8:06 to go.
Padrigao, who had eight points with Geoff Chiu, managed to give the Blue Eaglets the upperhand, 51-50. Then, they began missing their attempts.
The 6’7” Tamayo, who outworked Sotto in the shaded lane totaled 13 points and 10 rebounds, and he is one of two Bullpups who had double-double outputs that afternoon.
Gonzales also stepped up underneath and had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Sotto finished the season with 26 points and 25 rebounds, and drew support underneath from David Diaz, who made three points and 10 boards. Chiu shot eight points and drew nine boards.
The Bullpups last won the crown back in 2016 when the Jeff Napa-coached squad, bannered by Justine Baltazar and John Lloyd Clemente, took home the Season 78 crown.
Fortea was woeful as he converted only 3-of-19 shots. But he scored five big points in the fourth quarter that hiked the NU dribblers’ lead to 59-51 with 2:31 left to play.
He finished with 15 points, four assists, and two rebounds to win his second UAAP title.
Carl Tamayo, who was named Finals MVP, added 13 points and 10 rebounds. His front court partner Kevin Quiambao had eight points, six boards, five assists, and two blocks.
Cyril Gonzales also tallied a double-double. He finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds. He added four assists, three steals, and a block. Reyland Torres had eight and nine.”‹