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Bulldogs clip Warriors, grab share of lead

A BANGED-UP Alfred Aroga and J-Jay Alejandro found scoring opportunities in the endgame as the National University Bulldogs clipped the University of the East Warriors, 72-66, to grab a share of the lead Wednesday in the 79th University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The 6’7” Aroga limped after the game, his right knee bruised following several bad falls under the basket and after showing the way with 16 points and 13 rebounds for the Bulldogs, who weathered a close encounter marked by seven deadlocks and nine lead changes.

His layup off Nick Abanto in the last 1:19 finally handed the Bulldogs the lead which they never relinquished, 69-66.

Alejandro, who switched back to his old and favorite jersey number (7) for good luck after he lent it last year to another teammate, denied UE another scoring chance. 

After Jess Diputado padded NU’s edge to four, 70-66, off rookie Alvin Pasaol’s foul with a split charity in the last 23.1 seconds, the 6-foot Alejandro, who had 10 points, got in the way of  the prolific and foul-troubled Pasaol’s three-point attempt. He then sank one of two gift shots at the expense of Pasaol after the latter fouled out.

Changing to a new jersey number, according to Alejandro, inspired him because his idol, Tony Kukoc of the Chicago Bulls, used the same number.

NU coach Eric Altamirano said he expected their game with UE Warriors to be this close.

“UE is a tough team. I knew we were in for a tough battle today. I think our defense spared us in the fourth,” said Altamirano.

Meanwhile, the La Salle Green Archers, who drew 29 points from Jeron Teng, gave new coach Aldin Ayo a rousing welcome with their 83-78 triumph over the defending champion Far Eastern University Tamaraws. Teng put La Salle safely ahead in the last 57.1 seconds with his two charities off Ron Dennison’s foul, 81-77. 

Games Saturday 

(The Araneta Coliseum)

2 p.m. UE vs UST

4 p.m. UP vs La Salle

Topics: Alfred Aroga , J-Jay Alejandro , National University Bulldogs , UE Warriors , 79th University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball tournament

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