MANILA -- National University (NU) sent the University of the Philippines (UP) to the cellar of the first round of the 73rd UAAP men’s basketball tournament after hacking out a huge upset, 70-66, at the Arena in San Juan Saturday afternoon.

The Bulldogs exploded for 49 points in the second half as compared to the 25-point haul of UP with Joseph Hermosisima architecting the under three-minute resurgence of NU, burying a triple with 48.7 seconds remaining in regulation, 68-66.

Alvin Padilla muffed a potential game-changing triple as Joseph Terso perfected his charities to seal the doom for the Diliman-based cagers.

UP earlier erected a 22-point bubble, 43-21, in the early minutes of the third canto but the Bulldogs crawled back, slowly gaining momentum as the Fighting Maroons lost skipper Woody Co due to foul troubles.

“I told the boys at the dugout, it’s your time to show a good game. If you play well, it’s going to be history. Good thing, the group responded,” said coach Eric Gonzales.

NU finished the first round campaign with a 3-4 (win-loss) slate but not enough to cheer the disappointed spirit of the debuting coach.

“I am disappointed with our record because all our opponents have literally shown their best games whenever we face them. We need to deserve every victory and they deserve this victory because they have worked so hard,” said Gonzales.

The Fighting Maroons dropped all its seven games so far, matching their worst performance three years ago, when a Joe Lipa-coached team finished the 70th season without single victory.

Lipa, who brought the Diliman squad’s lone championship ring in 1986, was immediately terminated and replaced by UP alumnus and Talk N’ Text assistant coach Aboy Castro in February 2008.

Castro filed an indefinite leave last July 21 due to “personal reasons” as UP tapped former Sta. Lucia Realtors’ mentor Boyet Fernandez to temporarily call the shots for the Fighting Maroons. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)