MANILA - National University recovered from a double-digit hole to hand the University of the Philippines a 74-72 loss in the FilOil EcoOil Preseason Cup, Sunday at the FilOil EcoOil Centre in San Juan.
It was UP's first defeat in the preseason competition after winning their first five games by double-digits. National U, meanwhile, improved to 4-0 in Group A.
John Lloyd Clemente had 15 points and nine boards, and Leobert Casinillo contributed 14 points, six rebounds and four dimes to keep the Bulldogs unbeaten. Steve Nash Enriquez added 13 points.
The Bulldogs weathered a 24-point, 10-rebound performance from reigning UAAP Rookie of the Year Carl Tamayo. UP had a chance to steal the win in the final seconds, but JD Cagulangan misfired on a three-pointer.
"Hindi naman ganoon ka-big deal," NU coach Jeff Napa said of the result. "We're just here to compete talaga, subukan namin kung hanggang saan kami."
"Sila ang ang defending champion so sila ang barometer, so lahat ng college team gustong subukan. We accepted the challenge and see come what may ano ang result. Yung learning ang gusto kong matutunan ng mga bata," he stressed.
The Bulldogs trailed by as much as 12 points, 43-31, late in the second quarter but rebounded in the third frame to make it a nip-and-tuck battle late.
Tamayo knotted the count at 69 with four and a half minutes to play, but a layup by Michael Malonzo in NU's next possession put the Bulldogs back ahead, 71-69.
Both teams saw their offense grow cold in the ensuing minutes, and Tamayo fumbled an opportunity to tie the game when he missed two free throws with 1:44 to go. A floater by Enriquez on the other end made it a four-point game, 73-69, with 1:11 left.
But Tamayo refused to let UP go down without a fight. The big man splashed a three-pointer to make it a one-point game in UP's next trip down, then stripped Enriquez of the ball on the other end.
Unfortunately for UP, Tamayo lost control of his dribble, forcing the Maroons to foul Clemente. The NU guard kept the door open for UP as he made just one of two free throws with ten seconds left.
UP went to Cagulangan in the final possession, and the guard attempted a three-pointer from the same spot where he won the UAAP Season 84 title against Ateneo. He was unable to convert this time around, as his triple hit the rim before Clemente controlled the rebound.
Zavier Lucero was the only other player in double-digits for UP with 10 points.
NU 74 -- Clemente 15, Casinillo 14, Enriquez 13, Yu 7, Malonzo 4, Palacielo 4, Manansala 4, Mahinay 4, John 4, Galinato 3, Minerva 2, Padrones 0.
UP 72 -- Tamayo 24, Lucero 10, Diouf 8, Galinato 8, Abadiano 7, Fortea 6, Cagulangan 3, Torculas 3, Catapusan 2, Alarcon 1, Gonzales 0, Calimag 0, Ramos 0.
Quarters: 19-19, 43-34, 60-59, 74-72.