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NU prevents Ateneo sweep, forces Game 3 in juniors finals
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With their backs against the wall in Game 2 of the Season 80 finals, the Bullpups leaned on clutch Chris Clark Youth Jersey
plays from Miguel Oczon and Michael Malonzo to stun the Blue Eaglets, 70-67, in front of a packed house at the FilOil Flying V Centre on Tuesday afternoon.
This was Ateneo's first loss in the tournament after winning all 14 of their games in the elimination and routing NU, 86-70, in Game 1 last Friday.The Bullpups' emotional triumph prevented the Blue Eaglets from completing a perfect season – a feat that was previously achieved by the NU Bullpups in Season 76. They forced a do-or-die Game 3, set for Friday at the same San Juan venue.
"Siguro compared noong Game 1 namin, I think 'yung team had better composure. Naka-ilang lead change kanina, pero nag-stick sila sa game plan. 'Yung defense namin is mas gumanda naman towards the end," said NU coach Goldwyn Monteverde.
Oczon led the way for NU with 17 points, while Malonzo scored six of his 10 points in the fourth quarter. Rhayyan Amsali battled through a wrist injury that he suffered in the second quarter to finish with 11 points and 13 rebounds.
After a dominant performance in Game 1, Ateneo's towering Kai Sotto was limited to only 10 points, eight rebounds, and five blocks this time around. Dave Ildefonso led Ateneo with 14 points and 13 rebounds, while SJ Belangel managed only 10 points due to foul trouble.
In the heart-stopping fourth frame, NU and Ateneo traded shots, with Jason Credo in particular stepping up for the Blue Eaglets. His and-1 with 4:05 to go tied the game at 59, after Winderich Coyoca gave NU the lead with a triple.
Credo then assisted on Sotto for a one-handed slam dunk, putting Ateneo ahead, 61-59 with 3:45 left. But Malonzo responded with a lay-up, before Oczon drilled a triple to make it 64-61 for NU with 2:41 to go.
Belangel took charge for Ateneo at that point, firing a jumper then converting a tough lay-up in transition for a 65-64 count with 1:47 left. Malonzo, however, was unstoppable, as he drew Sotto's fourth foul and calmly knocked down two charities to give NU back the lead, 66-65.
A baseline jumper by Joaqui Manuel gave Ateneo its last lead, 67-66, with 1:10 to go. It was Malonzo who once again came up with the big plays, as he spun out of a double team for the go-ahead lay-up with 57.8 seconds left, then emphatically Bruce Ellington Authentic Jersey blocked Manuel's shot in the next possession.
Belangel bricked a lay-up in Ateneo's next trip down, but the Bullpups kept the door open for the Blue Eaglets when they committed a shot-clock violation. NU would not be denied, however, as Oczon came up with a steal of Credo's inbound pass then iced the game with a lay-up at the buzzer.
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