MANILA, Philippines – National University's (NU) bench players drew praise from their coach after they helped the Bulldogs pull away from the Adamson Soaring Falcons in their UAAP Season 77 game Wednesday.
The Bulldogs started somewhat flat and even trailed 14-10 against the winless Falcons in the first period.
But they eventually took control of the game when players like Glenn Khobuntin, Rev Diputado, Paolo Javelona and Reden Celda came off the bench. A lay-up by the veteran Khobuntin sparked a 22-0 run spanning the first and second quarters, and the Bulldogs never looked back.
"I think very pivotal talaga 'yung second quarter," NU head coach Eric Altamirano said after the game. "Our second unit stepped up."
"Medyo low energy 'yung first group namin, so when the second unit came in, sila 'yung nag-provide ng spark," he added. "They just focused on defense, and our offense was created by our defense."
The Bulldogs wound up out-scoring the Falcons 24-2 in the second period, and went on to win 71-50. Their bench scored Adamson's, 41-9.
"We're just happy to get this win. You know how important this win is come this second round," said Altamirano.
At the same time, the coach noted that the Bulldogs can use some work when it comes to dealing with Adamson's defensive pressure. NU coughed up the ball 27 times, a number that Altamirano said was uncharacteristic of his team.
"It's very unlikely of us to commit this number of turnovers," he said.
"The way they pressed us, I think obviously we did not do a good job handling the press, the traps. I think this is the most that we've committed this season, and it's something we need to address come Sunday's game against Ateneo," Altamirano added.
NU improved their record to six wins against three losses after Wednesday's victory, and at the same time officially ousted Adamson from the race to the Final Four.