MANILA, Philippines – National University (NU) head coach Eric Altamirano could only lament the late breaks in the game that led to the Bulldogs' 74-70 overtime loss to Far Eastern University (FEU) in the UAAP men's basketball tournament on Sunday.
"It was a tough game for us," said Altamirano. "You have to give it to FEU, they really played very well."
"The breaks also went their way; they were able to make the tough shots at the end. Too bad that we could not stop it," he added.
The Bulldogs were able to take a brief 65-63 lead with a little over a minute to go in regulation, but a breakdown on defense led to an open jump shot for FEU's Carl Cruz that tied the game. Both squads still had chances to win, and NU actually had the final possession, but point guard Gelo Alolino fumbled and bricked a game-winning attempt.
"I thought FEU were more aggressive on the ball," Altamirano noted. "They were getting the 50-50 balls, and then in overtime, you know, we were in penalty situation, and they were getting the fouls."
"We were fouling. We were supposed to be playing defense, but we gave up too many fouls at the end, which cost us the free throws and then the tough shot of Carl Cruz," he added.
Altamirano also pointed out that his team had a comfortable advantage in the third quarter but again, their usually excellent defense was broken down by the Tamaraws.
"There was a stretch there where we were up by eight," he said. "I felt we allowed them to come back, and then, when the game was close, the breaks of the game didn't go our way."
NU has now lost to FEU in back-to-back games, having dropped their last game of the first round to the Tamaraws, 71-62. The Bulldogs played better basketball this time around, but it was still not enough in the end.
"We just have to remain focused," Altamirano said, with his team now sporting a 5-3 win-loss record. "There will be a lot of games in the second round, and we're still within our target, within our goal."
"Importante lang na we remain focused and move forward, and forget about this game and focus on our next games," he added.