In a showcase of teamwork led by top-scorers Juan Gomez De Liano and Bright Akhuetie, the UP Men’s Basketball Team dominated the Recto-based ballers with a 29-point lead in the first ball game of the season. The game ended at 87-58, putting the State University at the top of the rankings.
De Liano (Juan) and Akhuetie opened the first quarter with back-to-back shots, signaling a good start for UP despite UE’s Alvin Pasaol threatening to break through their progress. The first quarter ended at 12-7, in favor of the UP dribblers.
Come second quarter, Warrior rookie Allan Beltran scored the quarter-opening goal, with more aggressive hustle from wingmen Jose Frederic Antiporda and Pasaol rallying to bring the scores to a close. The Red Warriors managed to outscore UP for a few minutes, but Javi Gomez De Liano was quick to defend on the last 52 seconds by sinking a three, right before Beltran brought the game to a 33-33 tie, giving the crowd a tense halftime.
For the rest of the second half, UP never relented. The Warriors attempted to counter the Maroons’ domination, with Jason Varilla and Philip Martin Manalang putting up a good fight. They were overwhelmed by successive goals of the De Liano tandem, ably supported by wingmen Paul Desiderio, Jun Manzo, and Jerson Prado.
Maroon-clad fans bringing in their contagious fighting spirit proved to be essential to the team’s victory following the star-studded Season 81 opening. Season host, National University, pulled out all the stops, bringing in Golden State Warriors star player Stephen Curry, who led the oath of sportsmanship. There were performances by 2NE1’s Minzy, James Reid, and Spongecola to welcome the jampacked crowd of UAAP fans, foreshadowing an exciting season ahead.
UP 87 – Gomez de Liano (Juan) 16, Akhuetie 15, Manzo 13, Desiderio 12, Gomez de Liano (Javi) 10, Vito 7, Murrell 6, Lim 2, Tungcab 2, Prado 2, Gozum 2, Dario 0, Longa 0, Jaboneta 0, Espanola 0, Spencer 0
UE 58 – Pasaol 14, Antiporda 9, Beltran 8, Manalang 6, Varilla 6, Bartolome 4, Maloles 4, Cullar 3, Acuno 2, Conner 2, Gallardo 0, Lacap 0
(Editor’s Note: In using the collective noun, whether to use a singular or plural verb depends on context. In the case of the Fighting Maroons, the context of its use is that of a singular unit. After all, UP has only one men’s basketball team. Hence, the use of a singular verb may be allowed. However, we recognize that under the Associated Press [AP] Stylebook 2018, team names are to be given plural verbs. While we are not required to adopt any particular stylebook, for the sake of consistency, we will follow AP Stylebook 2018.)