The Games that Play Us: The Zone-Busters

Emmanuel Mbe overwhelmed Austin Manyara
in their titanic match-up yesterday.
(image from

NU Bulldogs over the AdU Soaring Falcons, 63-56

In their only other close game of the season, the Adamson Soaring Falcons lost a late lead to the Ateneo Blue Eagles.

Against the NU Bulldogs yesterday, lightning struck twice.

Jerick Cañada made a fastbreak lay-up that gave the Falcons a 52-47 lead with a little more than 5 minutes to go. Adamson’s zone defense had been giving the Bulldogs fits, as evidenced by the paltry production of the forward duo of Ray Parks and Glenn Khobuntin (Parks had 7 and Khobuntin had none). Eric Camson already had 13 points at this juncture and Alex Nuyles was near-unstoppable on the drive. It seemed that as long as the Falcons kept things tight, then they’d pull this one out and get a fourth straight win.

Things didn’t look good for coach Eric Altamirano. And who do you call when things don’t look good?

The Zone-Busters - newcomers Jelo Alolino and Denice Villamor.

Jelo Alolino has developed into a sterling rookie for NU.
(image from
A few moments after Emmanuel Mbe trimmed the lead to two with a putback, Alolino struck with a top-of-the-key trey that tied things up at 52. Villamor was inserted and after a couple of plays he hit his own three to put NU up, 55-52. Coach Leo Austria inserted his own gunner in Roider Cabrera, and he hit his own three to tie it all up for the last time.

Then Villamor converted on an improbable ala-hoy shot off an offensive rebound to give the Bulldogs a slim two-point lead. He muffed the bonus charity, but a couple of plays later sank another triple that iced the upset.

Denice Villamor hit 8 of his 11 points in the last few minutes
of the game to defeat Adamson.
(image from
And just like that the aura of invincibility Adamson held for the past three games (and for the better part of this game) was shattered. Now the Soaring Falcons crash-land back on earth and have to pick up the pieces.

No doubt coach Leo Austria knew his streak would end, but I doubt if anybody thought it would end this early. Who’s to blame? Lester Alvarez’s 2-of-11 clip? Jan Colina’s 2 points on a pathetic 2 attempts? Alex Nuyles’s zero triples? Austin Manyara getting thoroughly outplayed by Mbe? Getting outrebounded? Looks like coach Austria has his work cut out for him.

Can Lester Alvarez be more consistent with his shot?
(image from
Coach Altamirano, on the other hand, can finally have something positive to pounce on and use as motivation to close out the first round with a win. The winless Red Warriors await on Thursday, and the canines from Sampaloc should feast on them with gusto.

NU 63 – Mbe 16, Villamor 11, Alolino 10, Parks 7, Singh 6, Labing-isa 5, Celiz 4, Ignacio 4, Khobuntin 0, Neypes 0
AdU 56 – Nuyles 15, Camson 13, Cañada 7, Alvarez 6, Lozada 6, Cabrera 3, Brondial 2, Colina 2, Petilos 2, Etrone 0, Manyara 0
QS: 10-20, 26-32, 43-46, 63-56

*NU proved they could win with Parks going practically dry from the field, but they needed Mbe’s double-double and their newcomers’ heroics to do it. I don’t think they can afford another below-par result from their Ray-gun.

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