National University stopped Far Eastern University's charge dead in its tracks, 73-67, on Friday in the 2023 FilOil EcoOil Preseason Cup at San Juan’s FilOil EcoOil Centre.
This set the four spots in Group II.
In typical Bulldogs fashion, they banked on total team effort to battle back from as much as behind 18 late in the first half.
They were still chasing down a seven-point deficit, 43-50, at the 6:12 mark of the third quarter before unleashing 15 unanswered points to get ahead, 58-50, early in the final frame.
"Alam ko naman kung anong capability ng team na 'to. They will rely on each other whatever happens. 'Yun naman 'yung pinakita ng team at masaya ako dun," said head coach Jeff Napa.
The Tamaraws again neared to within 65-67 with 4:30 remaining until the National U defense put on the clamps, as Steve Nash Enriquez sealed the deal with four points in their 8-2 finishing kick. He ended with 11 points, while Jake Figueroa contributed 11 points, eight rebounds, and three assists of his own.
The Bulldogs finished the eliminations at 7-2, but settled for the third seed in the play-in tournament because they lost to the University of the Philippines holding the same standing.
On the other hand, FEU finished in a triple-tie at 5-4, but by virtue of having the best quotient among Adamson University and St. Clare College of Caloocan also advanced to the next round where they first face off against VisMin qualifier Jose Maria College Foundation of Davao.
Mo Faty and Rojan Montemayor topped the scoring column for them with 14 points apiece.