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In Your Face!

NU Freego Cup Champ

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National University High School hung tough in an ugly game to annex the Pilipno-Chinese Amateur Basketball League Freego Cup championship versus a hardfighting Lasalle Zobel 58-52.

Zobel had a fiery start, soing up as much as 21-12 late in the first period behind the eight quarter points of 5'7" superstar guard Aljun Melecio. Melecio got plenty of help from the hustle of chunky 6-foot center Robbie Mariano and 5'9" swingman Brent Paraiso.

Melecio, Paraiso, and 5'7" guard Marvin Sario made a living off playing the passing lanes and intercepting plays from the NU guards. 5'7" Keith Peralta and 5'7" Daniel Atienza just could not get the ball to their big men down low with the pesky defense of Zobel.

NU however was able to regain its bearings to turn things around in the second period behind the combined efforts of tournament Mythical 5 member, 6'1" forward John Clemente, and 6-foot backup forward Carl Penano. Clemente and Penano were able to assert their superior size and strength against the overmatched Zobel frontline players especially with Clemente taking it hard to the rack in transition.

NU took a 32-26 lead going into the lemon time break.

Second half action proved to be a battle of futility, with both sides finding it hard to make a basket, not so much because of tightened defenses but simply because of errant passing and seemingly sure shots rolling off the rim.

Melecio at this point had been all but silenced, with the much bigger Clemente shadowing him, and RP Youth Team member, 6'2" forward Rhayyan Amsali helping jam him at the perimeter, preventing him from taking his three-point shots.

NU however wasn't faring much better at the basket, as their guards just could not get anything going. Clemente had also become frustrated with turnovers piling up and was unable to sustain any scoring momentum he built during the first half.

Zobel put together a mini-run towards the end of the third period behind 5'10" forward Martin Romero and 5'6" guard Miguel Fortuna to give Zobel back the edge at 41-42.

In the payoff fourth period the war of attrition continued. It looked like the game would go into extension. But NU somehow found enough of a finishing kick to build a seven point lead 49-42 going into the last three minutes.

Another stretch of bungled passes and missed baskets ensued until Melecio suddenly nailed a three-pointer to bring Zobel within 52-50.

Amsali and Penano however hit a couple of insurance points to keep the Junior Archers at bay. Peralta almost gave Zobel a chance to go for overtime with a dribbling error right in front of his coach, Jeff Napa, earning him a tongue lashing. NU held on for the title win though.

Penano had 10 points for NU while Melecio had 18 for Zobel. Melecio was a woeful 4/14 from three-point range.

In the game for third place Mapua titally shredded reigning UAAP champion Ateneo 104-79 behind the 30 points of 6'1" Mythical 5 member Sherwin Concepcion.
Tags: 3, ateneo, la salle, ncaa, uaap Add / Edit Tags
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