MANILA, Philippines – University of the Philippines brought on more heartbreak for National University in the UAAP Season 82 men's basketball tournament on Wednesday.
The Fighting Maroons held on for a slim 80-79 win over the Bulldogs after a game-winning attempt by John Lloyd Clemente ended up as an airball.
The defeat dropped National U to 0-4 in the tournament; they remain the only winless team in Season 82.
The nature of NU's losses has been gutting. The Bulldogs have lost three games by just a solitary point, and their other defeat – an 87-74 setback to University of Santo Tomas – happened after Soulemane Chabi Yo sent the game to overtime with just two seconds left.
"Is this for real?" NU head coach Jamike Jarin said after the defeat.
"You know, I'm not superstitious," he added. "Pero I think I need to believe na eh. Actually, is it coaching? Is it luck? Is it bad decision?"
"I'm sure everything is right, kung ano man ang mga sinabi ko eh. It's just that it's not yet here. It's not yet here."
After the final buzzer, the Fighting Maroons took time to console the despondent Bulldogs, particularly brothers Shaun and Dave Ildefonso. Dave had been superb in the game, putting up 25 points including the three-pointer that made it a one-point game with 11 seconds to go.
But he was forced to give up the ball in the final possession as not one, not two, but three UP players converged to defend him.
Among those UP players was Kobe Paras, who had a brief chat with the Ildefonso brothers after the game.
"I grew up with Shaun and Dave. When I started playing basketball, they were basically my teammates," Paras revealed. "So we have a bond that no one really knows about."
"I just told them to keep their heads up and they're gonna win a game soon," he added. "They're a great team, and coach Jamike does a wonderful job coaching them."
UP head coach Bo Perasol, for his part, noted that their winless record is not an accurate barometer of NU's quality as a team, especially when considered that their average losing margin is just four points.
"NU is a lot, lot better than their 0-4 slate," he said.
The Bulldogs will try to get their first win on Sunday, when they take on the two-time defending champions Ateneo Blue Eagles.
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