UE's Roi Sumang. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) The University of the East (UE) Red Warriors, playing without star point guard Roi Sumang, shook up the Final Four picture as they stunned the National University (NU) Bulldogs, 64-55, Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.
It was UE's first victory over a team with a winning record in the UAAP Season 77 men's basketball tournament, and it could not have come at a better time as the win kept alive their hopes of making it to the Final Four.
"We wanted to stay alive, and this game is very important to us," said UE head coach Derrick Pumaren after the game. "We cannot afford to let NU get their eighth win tonight. We were fighting for our lives, and we stayed alive."
"The boys really played well, played good defense. We had a week to work on NU, and I must say that we really played defense the way that we wanted," he added.
The Red Warriors played without Sumang, who was benched for disciplinary reasons. Pumaren revealed after the game that Sumang left the school on Friday night and did not return until Saturday morning, and consequently missed practice.
Sumang did not offer an explantion for his absence until late Saturday night. The team's management said the guard's actions showed a lack of discipline and respect, and he was punished accordingly.
Mammie posts double-double
With Sumang relegated to a cheerleader on the bench, it was Mammie who stepped up for UE as he scored a season-high 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while totally outplaying his NU counterparts Alfred Aroga and Henri Betayene.
"Charles carried us," said Pumaren. "He was making big shots, even hit shots from 15, 16 feet na parang the coach will say, 'No, no, no,' but when he makes it, 'Yes!'"
After a low-scoring first half, both teams' offense gained steam in the third quarter. Mammie burned NU with a variety of hook shots and lay-ups, while Betayene and Troy Rosario kept the Bulldogs within striking distance entering the final period, 29-37.
NU came as close as one point, 38-39, thanks to an 9-0 blast early in the fourth frame sparked by back-to-back triples from Pao Javelona and Gelo Alolino. But Mammie, as he had done all game, hit a hook shot in the lane to keep NU at arm's length, then rebounded a missed free throw from Paul Varilla to connect on another lay-up.
NU was still within striking distance, 44-50, after two free throws from Alolino with 3:23 to go. But RR de Leon connected on a three-pointer with 3:03 left to hike their lead to nine points, 53-44. It turned out to be his lone field goal of the game.
After a reverse lay-up by Rosario made it 46-53 with 2:05 remaing, Varilla and Mammie drilled back-to-back jumpers to slam the door on NU's hopes of a comeback.
UE's Gino Jumao-as goes for the layup past NU's Jess Diputado. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
Not a one-man team
"The beauty of basketball is it's a team sport," said Pumaren. "It's not about one guy, it's not about two guys. It takes everybody, a whole team to win a ballgame."
"That's what we showed tonight. UE is not a one-man team. The guys played their hearts out," he stressed.
UE now has a 6-5 record this season, one game behind NU, which dropped to 7-4.
Varilla, Chris Javier and GinoJumao-as each scored eight points for the Red Warriors, who shot 38% from the field while forcing the normally steady NU squad to commit 26 turnovers.
It was a low-scoring ball-game in the first half, however, as UE led 19-15 after the first two quarters. Javier and Jumao-as led a second quarter rally that allowed UE to recover from an 8-11 first period deficit.
Meanwhile, NU's offense sputtered. They scored only four points in the second frame and were scoreless in the final 7:59 of the canto. The Bulldogs made only two of 12 field goals in the second, and committed eight turnovers.
Alolino finished with 13 points for the Bulldogs, while Rosario finished with 12 points but missed several point blank lay-ups. After his sterling game against Ateneo in their previous assignment, Aroga struggled, scoring only three points to go along with four rebounds.
UE 64 - Mammie 22, Varilla 8, Javier 8, Jumao-as 8, Galanza 5, Alberto 4, De Leon 3, Guiang 2, Olayon 2, Charcos 2, Arafat 0, Palma 0
NU 55 - Alolino 13, Rosario 12, Javelona 9, Khobuntin 6, Neypes 5, Betayene 5, Aroga 3, Diputado 2, Alejandro 0, Celda 0, Perez 0.
Quarter-scoring: 8-11, 19-15, 37-29, 64-55