So much rides on NU’s championship last season. The struggle is for real this year. I know it. You know it. Everybody knows it. It is part of the deal somehow after losing a key player from last year’s run. For the second time this season, the Bulldogs suffered another tough loss against the struggling UE Red Warriors who, in the process, ended their four-game slump in a defensive game that was supposed to be dominated by this NU team.

It’s hard not to be frustrated the way this team is playing the marbles right now. Offensively, they looked very awful when floor general Gelo Alolino is sitting on the pine. Opposing sides are also very aware that they’re assigning pesky defenders to contain the veteran guard and totally rummage NU’s offensive flow. Masakit sa mata. Yung feeling na parang gusto mo ikaw na lang maglaro doon pero malabo mangyari eh.

This game is wholly a low-scoring affair owing to both squads flat shooting. UE shot a penurious 23-of-72 from the field, while NU attempted less buckets with 16-of-57 field goal attempts. So how will you win if this is your team’s endeavor?

Defense. Defense. Defense.

As expected, NU and UE blitzkrieg tangled themselves into a defensive one. I thought the Bulldogs were doing great job after leading at the half by nine points, 30-21. Not until the Red Warriors vent a 16-4 run courtesy of Chris Javier and Paul Varilla. These two guys scored all but three points during that critical rally that proved to be the turning point of this game.

Then the pivotal last two minutes came. Actually, NU was still on the game after making a defensive stop and closed the gap within four, 49-45. But Alfred Aroga, who sat down the early part of second half nursing four personal fouls, missed a layup that rolled out of the rim. Kapag minamalas ka nga naman. Nasa loob na niluwa pa. 

Boom! Javier saved the day for UE and handed NU another losing skid.  During the first round, the reigning champs started a dismal 0-3. This time, they kickoff a 0-2 entering the second round. Really bad. Hindi na pwedeng may championship hangover pa. Lalong hindi din pwede na magdahilan pa.