UAAP: NU upsets defending champion Ateneo in opener

NU Bulldogs’ Patrick Yu against Ateneo Blue Eagles in the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball game. –MARLO CUETO/

MANILA, Philippines — National University unleashed a fourth-quarter surge to stun defending champion Ateneo, 77-64, in the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball opener on Saturday at Mall of Asia Arena.

The Bulldogs opened the payoff period with a 10-0 run capped by Michael Malonzo’s basket inside for a 65-47 lead with 6:49 remaining.

Donn Lim’s hook shot and Patrick Yu’s triple tallied the biggest lead of 20 points, 70-50, with 3:55 left as Ateneo didn’t score a field goal for over six minutes until Sean Quitevis stopped the bleeding to trim the deficit to 18.

NU never looked back and handed Ateneo’s first opening day defeat in five years since the Season 81 opener loss to Adamson.

But coach Jeff Napa stressed that their first win will not mean a thing in their bid to surpass their previous bronze finish last season, shifting their focus against Far Eastern University on Wednesday.

“Itong panalo na ‘to, wala lang naman ‘to e. Wala namang silbi ‘to eh. Doesn’t mean kung ano man dito e. Just a win. We’ll just continue again pushing ourselves to the limit para makapagbigay kami ng magandang performance para sa mga legit Dabarkads,” said Napa after the game.

“Naka-tsamba siguro kami against a stronger team so we need to prepare against FEU. We will shift our focus against FEU.”

NU Bulldogs' Steve Nash Enriquez.

NU Bulldogs’ Steve Nash Enriquez. –MARLO CUETO/

Yu led the balanced attack of the Bulldogs with 12 points on 3-of-4 three-point shooting. Steve Nash Enriquez delivered 10 points and two assists. Kenshin Padrones had nine points, while Jolo Manansala and PJ Palacielo added eight markers and five rebounds each.

Kean Baclaan contributed four points and four rebounds and dished out a game-high eight assists, as Omar John and Jake Figueroa had seven points each, while Malonzo and Lim added six each.

NU missed its first 10 shots from the three-point line but finished the game with seven triples to join fellow opening-day winner University of the East.

Guards Quitevis and Gab Gomez led Ateneo with 12 points, while Ian Espinosa contributed 10 points, three rebounds, and two assists.

The defending champions, without graduates Ange Kouame, Dave Ildefonso, and BJ Andrade as well as ineligible Forthsky Padrigao, only drew four points from Kai Ballungay, who missed all his six shots from the field.

Prized recruit and Gilas cadet Mason Amos only had two markers on 1-of-4 shooting in 17 minutes of action as they try to bounce back against archrival La Salle.

NU coach Jeff Napa, Kean Baclaan, and Jake Figueroa after beating Ateneo in the #UAAPSeason86 opener.

Posted by Inquirer Sports on Saturday, September 30, 2023

The scores:

NU (77) — Yu 12, Enriquez 10, Padrones 9, Manansala 8, Palacielo 8, John 7, Figueroa 7, Malonzo 6, Lim 6, Baclaan 4, Jumamoy 0, Casinillo 0, Delos Reyes 0, Gulapa 0, Parks 0, Galinato 0.

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Ateneo (64) — Gomez 12, Quitevis 12, Espinosa 10, Lazaro 6, Bongo 5, Credo 4, Koon 4, Ballungay 4, Brown 3, Amos 0, Obasa 0, Chiu 0, Nieto 0, Celis 0.

Quarterscores: 23-15, 36-32, 55-47, 77-64

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