By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The National University (NU) Bulldogs pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the 2022 Filoil EcoOil Preseason Cup after stunning the reigning UAAP men’s basketball champions UP Fighting Maroons, 74-72.
NU’s big win over the star-studded Fighting Maroons team handed them their first loss of the ongoing tournament after winning their previous five games.
John Lloyd Clemente delivered an all-around performance of 15 points, nine rebounds, and four assists and spearheaded NU’s comeback from a double-digit deficit.
With the game tied at 69-all, NU was able to score two straight baskets courtesy of Steve Nash Enriquez and Michael Malonzo with only 1:11 remaining in the game.
However, Carl Tamayo and the Fighting Maroons answered back after draining a three-point bomb that kept them within striking distance with only a one-point deficit.
Clemente was then fouled with 10 seconds left in the clock and split his shots from the charity stripe to give them a two-point lead, 74-72.
The Fighting Maroons had enough time to tie or win the game but UAAP Finals Game 3 hero JD Cagulangan missed his step-back three-point attempt.
Aside from Clemente, Enriquez, and Malonzo, LA Casinillo also stepped up when NU needed him the most and chipped in 14 points, six rebounds, four assists, and three steals.
It was Casinillo who backstopped Clemente during their fiery run that trimmed the Fighting Maroons’ 12-point lead.
On the other hand, Tamayo continued his majestic FilOil outing after dropping 24 points, 10 rebounds, four steals, and two assists.
“Kumbaga, sa amin di naman namin ganon ka-big deal yung win we’re just here to compete lang talaga. Then subukan namin kung hanggang saan kami, siyempre sila ‘yung defending champion, kumbaga sila ‘yung barometer kaya ng UAAP, so lahat talaga ng college team gustong subukan ‘kung ano ‘yung capability ng team na yan,” said NU head coach Jeff Napa.