MANILA, Philippines – The league-leading National University (NU) Bulldogs will try to extend their winning streak to three games when they take on the slumping University of the East (UE) Red Warriors in the UAAP men's basketball tournament Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Since losing for the first time this season against La Salle, NU reeled off back-to-back wins against Ateneo and Adamson, the latter victory coming in historic fashion as they held the Falcons to only 25 points.
NU coach Eric Altamirano hopes his players will be quick to forget that win, however, as they prepare to face a dangerous UE team.
"We want to move forward, and we want to focus on our next game against UE," Altamirano said after their win against Adamson last Wednesday. "We want to forget about this game; tapos na 'yan."
The Red Warriors have been unpredictable this season; they kicked off their Season 77 campaign with wins over University of the Philippines and Adamson, but have slumped against higher-ranked teams since.
In their game against La Salle, they forced the defending champions to 36 turnovers but were out-executed in the endgame. Against Far Eastern University (FEU) last week, they forced the Tamaraws to commit 31 turnovers and led by double-digits early, but fell apart in the second half.
"Defensively, we've made teams commit 30 turnovers and still lose the ballgame," said UE coach Derrick Pumaren, saying their problems were on offense.
"I'm not happy with the way we're playing offensively. We're not playing as a team," he pointed out. "There are a lot of forced shots. I think that's the point of concern here."
A win over UE will hike NU's record to 5-1. Game time is at 2 p.m.
In the second game of the double-header, the Ateneo Blue Eagles will look to bounce back from their first loss of the season as they play the FEU Tamaraws.
The winner of the Ateneo-FEU showdown will claim solo second place in the league standings with a 4-1 win-loss slate.
FEU has won two consecutive games, including a comeback victory against UE last week, while Ateneo has had a week to recover from their close loss to NU.
Game time is at 4 p.m.