60 years of waiting is over as the National University Bulldogs defeated the Far Eastern University Tamaraws, 75-59, to claim their historical UAAP Season 77 Men’s Basketball Championship crown on Wednesday, October 15 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Bulldogs proved that they are the top defensive squad of Season 77 as they showcased maximum defense to secure the UAAP title on their hands one more time after its last 1954 possession.
Cameroonian center Alfred Aroga, who had just played his debut year this Season as he missed Season 76 due to residency policy, was hailed UAAP Finals MVP as he led the Bulldogs with 24 points and 18 rebounds.
Heroic guard Gelo Alolino did not end the Season without excellent numbers, adding 12 hits and 5 rebounds for NU.
FEU had a tenacious opening period and had an advance of 11-5 but NU managed to recover smoothly to even the scores at 11 before ending the 1st quarter up by 20-18.
The Bulldogs did not give FEU a chance to score as they sustain excellent defense underneath, accompanied by well-executed plays courtesy of Khobuntin, Alolino and Javelona to end the 2nd quarter at 30-26.
Third period became a huge threat for the Tamaraws, as Adven Jess Diputado sank a triple and another layup from the baseline in the first three minutes of the quarter to post NU’s lead by 14 points.
NU kept the lead over FEU at 55-44 en route to the 4th period and flawlessly converted FEU turnovers to easy baskets.
Fourth period was still controlled by the Bulldogs as they hindered the Tamaraws from recovering their pace, making FEU succumb to their consecutive three-point plays to keep the Tamaraws within a mediocre double-digit deficit.
Glenn Khobuntin, playing for his final year as a National University Bulldog, sank a double with just 1:51 on the clock to force a heavy 73-57 advantage over the reeling Tamaraws.
Khobuntin made the final freethrows of his UAAP career to erect his record of 10 points for Game 3.
NU Bulldogs’ big men Kyle Neypes and Troy Rosario hammered 8 and 6 hits, respectively for the newly-crowned UAAP Men’s Basketball Champion.
It was an emotional day for the NU Bulldogs, the road to the Finals was not an easy ride to take on for them as they had to outlast top-seeded Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles twice before settling on the Finals berth.
They then had to bark louder and bite harder, as the NU crowd says it, to turn things around and bounce back from a 0-1 first blood by the FEU Tamaraws during the Finals series Game 1 and outlast them twice as well to finally bag the UAAP crown.
NU had a long journey since its last championship on 1954. After 60 years of thirst and hunger for the UAAP title, the Bulldogs were able to bring back what they had historically.
NU notched a Final Four spot during Season 75 which was bannered by Bobby Ray Parks, Jr., however, they were not able to climb further to the Finals.
The Bulldogs failed again during Season 76 despite its claim of the Final Four top spot after they were crushed by the University of Sto. Tomas who nestles in the fourth berth during the Final Four.
Finally, this Season 77, the Bulldogs were able to step up against the Ateneo Blue Eagles and made a historical progress of being a defensive team who nestled on the fourth spot, but successfully took the prestigious UAAP Men’s Basketball Championship Title in the end.