MANILA, Philippines - The National University (NU) Bulldogs opened their UAAP Season 75 campaign in smashing fashion as they fired on all cylinders en route to a 90-55 shellacking of the hapless University of the East (UE) Red Warriors at the SM Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena in Pasay City Saturday.
Bobby Ray Parks led the way with a sterling all-around game of 16 points, six rebounds, six assists, four steals and three blocks while Jeoffrey Javillonar had a double-double of 19 points and 11 rebounds for the Bulldogs.
"We played very well today, especially since it's the opening day. I know normally teams have jitters and that was my concern, but the boys proved that it was an ordinary game, it was just any other game," said NU head coach Eric Altamirano.
The 35-point winning margin posted by the Bulldogs was the largest margin of victory in an opening day game in the UAAP in the last ten years.
The Bulldogs showed off their remarkable running game, outscoring the Warriors 28-0 on fast-breaks and converting 21 UE turnovers into 22 points. They tallied 28 assists to only 7 by the Warriors, and had only 12 turnovers.
The onslaught started in the second quarter, when the Bulldogs opened the period with four straight 3-pointers. They eventually outscored the Warriors 35-8 in the second quarter to break the game wide open.
"We're very happy. We played very well collectively, they stuck to our game plan and they were very disciplined," Altamirano said of his players. "It was very consistent as far as our game is concerned."
The Warriors actually led after the first quarter, 15-13, after point guard Roi Sumang drained a three-pointer at the buzzer.
But that would be the lone highlight of the game for the Warriors as they were discombobulated by the Bulldogs' defense. They were held scoreless for more than three minutes in the second quarter, while the Bulldogs scored 13 straight points, many of which came via fast-breaks.
"It starts on our defense and on our rebounding," Altamirano said, noting that the Bulldogs seemed "tight" in the first quarter. "We get easy points because of our defense, that dictates our transition."
The absence of big man Emmanuel Mbe due to a uniform mix-up in the first half was barely felt as the Bulldogs raced to a 48-23 first half lead.
"Mbe's uniform did not have the number in front, and when we asked the Commissioner if that is allowed, he said no," Altamirano explained. "We could not let him play in the entire first half, but it's a good thing that Henri Betayene played very well for us. He dictated the tempo in the first quarter."
Betayene took Mbe's place in the starting line-up and finished with 3 points, 4 rebounds and 4 blocks.
Mbe made his season debut in the third quarter and announced his presence with a fast-break dunk that gave the Bulldogs a 56-25 lead.
National U eventually led by as much as 40 points, 88-48.
Parks, last season's Most Valuable Player, commended his teammates for a job well done.
"It's really fun to play with these players because everybody can score," Parks said. "I'm definitely happy. I'm proud of the team."
"Our work for the team is to stay together, stay humble and stay focused," he added.
Parks noted that unlike last season, wherein he had to score in bunches for the Bulldogs to remain competitive, this time he can act more like a facilitator and be "another coach on the floor."
Aside from Parks and Javillonar, Josual Alolino (12 points) and Spencer Rosario (10 points) also finished in double figures.
Sumang finished with 21 points, three assists and four steals for the Warriors, who shot a miserable 26% from the field. No other player from UE scored in double figures.
NU Bulldogs: Javillonar 19, Parks 16, Alolino 12, Rosario 10, De Guzman 8, Villamor 6, Mb 4, Labing-isa 3, Ignacio 3, Betayene 3, Peres 2, Neypes 2, Celda 2, Singh 0, Rono 0, Khobuntin 0
UE Red Warriors: Sumang 21, Razon 8, Galanza 8, Olayon 7, Santos 4, Belleze 2, Javier 2, Flores 2, Sumido 1, Alberto 0, Villairas 0, Vladez 0, Duran 0, Duncil 0
Quarter scores: 13-15, 38-23, 72-40, 90-55