MANILA, Philippines – For the third game in a row, the National University (NU) Bulldogs absorbed a painful defeat in the UAAP Season 82 men’s basketball tournament.
After slim defeats to Adamson University and De La Salle University, the Bulldogs appeared poised for a breakthrough when Enzo Joson raced past his defenders to give NU a 70-68 lead over University of Santo Tomas (UST) with just a shade over six seconds left.
The Growling Tigers had no timeouts left, but six seconds was more than enough time for their speedy rookie guard, Mark Nonoy, to dribble down the court and find Beninese big man Soulemane Chabi Yo under the basket. Chabi Yo twisted to evade the defense of Shaun Ildefonso, and tied the game with two seconds to spare.
UST dominated in overtime, as NU faded away once Dave Ildefonso fouled out with under three minutes left. The Tigers took the 87-74 win to send the Bulldogs to 0-3 in Season 82.
“As you can see, everybody naman saw what these young men can do. But unfortunately Lady Luck is not yet in our side,” said NU head coach Jamike Jarin after the game.
“Disheartening, yes,” he added. “Again, there’s a lot of basketball to be played.”
This defeat was particularly upsetting, as NU led 63-58 with just two minutes left in regulation. They had several chances to pad their lead, but brutal turnovers fueled UST’s rally. That those turnovers came after timeouts only made the loss sting even more.
Yet for Jarin, there was no reason to “do the blame game.” He acknowledged that his players made mistakes in crunch time. After Joson’s go-ahead shot in the final six seconds, they were celebrating even as play continued.
“We were just too overwhelmed by the situation. Siguro ‘yun ang right term. We were overwhelmed,” said Jarin.
“These are young men,” he also said. “You just guide them, you teach them the right things.”
As he did after their last-second loss to La Salle last Wednesday, Jarin chose to look on the bright side. They may be 0-3, but the Bulldogs are playing much better than they did last season, and have been competitive in every game.
“We just learn from these mistakes,” he said.
“You make make the proper correction. Like what I always say, the harder you work, the luckier you get. So you need to work hard. Hardest,” he stressed.
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