MANILA, Philippines — For National University's past couple of games, veteran guard J-Jay Alejandro has been the lone bright spot in the Bulldogs' struggling offense.
He had 25 points — nine in the final quarter — in the Bulldogs' 83-76 loss to Adamson University on Sunday. Against Far Eastern University on Wednesday, he scored 23 points, 11 of which came in the payoff period.
Unfortunately for Alejandro, his efforts were once again in vain as the Bulldogs succumbed to the Tamaraws, 90-83, for their second straight defeat to sink to 2-3 in the UAAP Season 80 men's basketball tournament.
A subdued Alejandro noted that NU essentially lost the game in the first quarter, when the Tamaraws raced to a 22-15 lead.
"Hindi ko masabi na bad start," he explained. "Siguro, nasa amin din eh. 'Yung start naman namin, OK, pero pagdating sa bench, doon kami natalo. Tsaka kung titingnan 'yung bench points, ang laki ng lamang nila."
In their bid to make a comeback in the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs went almost exclusively to Alejandro. He scored their first nine points of the frame, including the banked-in 3-pointer that cut the deficit to seven points, 84-77, with 3:21 left.
He later scored on another lay-up to make it a five-point game, 88-83, with less than a minute to go, but the Bulldogs were unable to complete the comeback as FEU clamped down defensively the rest of the way.
Alejandro wound up taking 23 shots in the contest, far and away the most in the team. That their offense simply revolved around one player was admittedly a cause for concern for NU coach Jamike Jarin, who is more known for an equal-opportunity system.
"That is a concern," said Jarin. "Like I said, this team is not talented enough (individually) to win games, so it has to be a collective effort."
"We need to step up, offensively and defensively," he stressed.
Alejandro, for his part, understands that the scoring burden is on him as NU's "main guy," even as he is insists that he is not forcing his shot.
"Nire-read ko lang naman kung ano 'yung binibgay sa akin ng depensa," he said. "If may tira ako, titira ako."
But if the Bulldogs hope to recover from their two-game slump, Alejandro is going to need help in carrying their scoring load.
"This is a test," said Jarin. "It's the first time that we're below .500, so let's see the maturity of this team."
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