Not even a quadriceps injury could slow down Alfred Aroga as the National U import unleashed 10 of his 16 points in the pivotal fourth quarter to power the Bulldogs to a 72-66 conquest of the All-Filipino UE Red Warriors on Wednesday in the UAAP Season 79 men’s basketball at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Aroga played through pain, muscling his way to a big basket that gave the Bulldogs a three-point cushion, 69-66, and the free throw that sealed the deal.
“Alfred did not expect to score but when we needed it the most he was there. We’re happy to get the win,” NU coach Eric Altamirano said.
The hulking import, who missed the preseason with the injury, showed a big heart as he also hauled down 13 rebounds and registered four shot blocks in a statement game from the NU captain.
J-Jay Alejandro also came up big with 13 points, three rebounds and three assists while Jess Diputado almost had a double-double finishing with nine markers and nine boards for the Bulldogs.
“I expected a tough game against UE. I felt UE is a Final 4 team. We were in for a tough fight against them. Our defense bailed us out in the 4th quarter,”
True enough, UE did not hand over the game on a silver platter as the Warriors fought through seven deadlocks and nine lead changes.
NU won the rebounding department, 53-41, but committed 28 turnovers that allowed UE to stay close up until the final minute.
The Warriors, who last tied the game at 65-all, were led by Bonbon Batiller’s 18 points. Rookie Alvin Pasaol came up with 10 and six rebounds in his UAAP debut.
NU 72 – Aroga 16, Alejandro 13, Diputado R 9, Salem 7, Morido 7, Rangel 7, Abatayo 5, Diputado C 3, Gallego 2, Sinclair 2, Pate 1, Mosquada 0, Salim 0, Yu 0
UE 66 – Batiller 18, Pasaol 10, De Leon 8, Penuela 7, Olayon 7, Varilla 5, Charcos 4, Abanto 2, Palma 2, Acuno 2, Gagate 1, Manalang 0, Armenion 0, Larupay 0, Derige 0, Bartolome 0
QUARTER SCORES: 16-15, 38-33, 47-46, 72-66