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Bulldogs roll past Warriors, Archers maul Tigers

MANILA, Philippines — Red-hot National U churned out a gritty 64-61 win over University of the East to stretch its rampage to five straight games in the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball tournament yesterday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

Kean Baclaan once again came to the rescue with a five-point binge in the clutch punctuated by the go-ahead triple as the Bulldogs recovered after squandering a 14-point margin.

The second-year guard uncorked 18 points, five rebounds and three assists albeit with seven turnovers to headline the timely recovery of NU, which stayed in the Top 2 with a 7-1 slate.

Jake Figueroa added 12 rebounds, two assists and two steals, including the insurance free throws as Patrick Yu and PJ Palacielo chipped in nine and seven points, respectively.

“Credit sa mga bata. ‘Yung composure at maturity nandoon. ‘Yun ang malaking bagay towards sa kung saan namin gusto mapunta. That’s crucial. Ito, evident na lumabas ngayon ‘yung maturity nila,” said coach Jeff Napa as NU flipped a 57-61 deficit in the last three minutes.

The Bulldogs, whose impressive run included big wins over reigning champion Ateneo and La Salle in the first round, looked headed to a comfortable win by posting a 14-point gap in the first half only to allow the Warriors to get back into the game with a searing rally in the third.

Figueroa sealed the deal with two freebies in the last 5.3 seconds.

MVP race leader Kevin Quiambao stuffed a 22-12-6-5 statsline in only 23 minutes of action as La Salle (5-3) dealt Santo Tomas (1-7) a 110-69 beating.

Later, L-Jay Gonzales drained the game-winning trey at the buzzer as the Denok Miranda-mentored Far Eastern U (3-5) became the first team to ever sweep reigning champion Ateneo (4-4) under coach Tab Baldwin in the elimination round with a 62-59 win.