BACOLOD, Philippines – National University took the men's cage crown as University of the East made a no-show while Far Eastern U took the men's football and women's basketball crowns at the close of the 17th Sandugo University Games at the University of St. La Salle-Bacolod Gym here yesterday.
The Bulldogs, who escaped with a 67-66 decision over the Adamson Falcons in the semis, took the easy way out to pocket the gold medal after the Warriors decided to leave the night before to honor a previous commitment in Chinese Taipei.
It was NU's second Unigames title in three years.
Dethroned champion Ateneo, which fell to UE, 65-68, in the semis, edged Adamson, 58-56, to clinch runner-up honors as organizers stripped the Warriors of any medal in the cage competition.
The Falcons, who protested their semis defeat to the Bulldogs, also threatened not to show up in the game but changed their minds upon pleas from local organizer Dodong Bascon. Adamson took third place.
Without UE, NU, which also won in Dumaguete in 2010, played this year's UAAP runner-up UST in an exhibition game for just two quarters and barely won it, 54-52.
In football, FEU bucked a late, spirited charge by University of St. La Salle in injury time to escape with a pulsating 5-4 victory and cop the men’s gold at the Pana-ad Park and Stadium in this event bankrolled by Sandugo and backed by Smart.
Jesus Melliza, a mainstay of the Green Archers United Globe team in the First Division of the Manila-based United Football League, finished with a hat-trick, including two when the Morayta-based booters seized a 3-1 lead at halftime.
But Aldrin Dolino and Marson dela Torre countered with goals on the 61st and in the second minute in extra time, respectively, to tie the count at 3.
Eric Ben Gicanto then unloaded a rocket a minute later before Melliza struck in the second extra time to gain a two-goal cushion.
Jimmy Malaloan scored on a penalty kick as USLS closed in again but the Stingers ran out of time to turn it around or force a penalty shootout.
"We're happy because we won this event though most of our players are just 14 years old," said Jade Bejeminio in Filipino.
In women's basketball, UAAP title-holder FEU made it a double celebration as it downed NU, 57-54, to bag the gold, its first since going all the way in the 2008 edition, also in Dumaguete.
The Lady Tams, who swept this UAAP season in 16 games, including a two-game finals sweep of La Salle, clinched the crown despite the absence of reigning UAAP Finals MVP Soc Borja and season MVP Allana Lim, who both graduated.
FEU actually dropped its first assignment to St. Benilde but swept past UP, Holy Cross of Davao City, NU and USLS in the group stage before nipping Lyceum, 52-50, in the semis.
"It's all about heart," said FEU coach Allan Albano. "Add to that the fact that this team is already like family."
In men's volleyball, USLS rallied from two-set down to eke out a nerve-wracking 19-25, 20-25, 25-16, 25-17, 23-21 triumph over FEU to book its first crown since snaring the gold 14 years ago, also here in Bacolod.