The National University (NU) Bulldogs basketball team made history on Wednesday night as they defeated the Far Easter University (FEU) Tamaraws 75-59 before a record crowd at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, ending their 60-year championship title drought in the UAAP.
NU’s 6-foot-7 Alfred Aroga was named as the Finals MVP, chalking up a double-double (24 points, 18 rebounds) in the final game of the series. He averaged 16 points on 47 percent in the entire best of 3 series.
Gelo Alolino pitched in 12 points for the Bulldogs squad while Glenn Khobuntin and J-Jay Alejandro finished with 10 points each.
For FEU, Mike Tolomia and Mac Belo scored 23 and 17 points respectively, but this is not enough to lift the Tams towards victory as its role players contributed little.
During the deciding game, the Bulldogs excellently held the Tams on just 30.77 percent shooting (24 of 78) with their sturdy defense to clinch the title before a record 25,138 fans at the Big Dome.
The Tams were just two points behind the Bulldogs by the end of the first half, but NU widened the gap in the successive quarters. NU led by as much as 19 points during the 1:51 mark in the final quarter.
“It was really hard…On our first year, our battle cry was respect. We wanted to earn the respect of the league. We tried to change the culture of the team,” said Altamirano, who started his stint with the Bulldogs in 2010.
In that year, the NU finished fifth, just on the brink of joining the Final Four. During Altamirano’s third year as coach, the Bulldogs emerged as the No. 1 seed, besting the more experienced teams in the league.
During the current season, the Bulldogs had to survive five knockout games on the way to the championship. In the end, the challenges made them tougher.
“I think through those adversities that we had to go through, that made us stronger. Every game that we played, we grew stronger.”
FEU won the first game of the championship series, but the NU Bulldogs got back with the Game 2 win.