The UP Fighting Maroons notched their seventh win for the first time since 2004 after convincingly beating their first-round tormentors University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers, 83-69, to knock out the Tigers out of final-four contention and strengthen their own bid in the second round of UAAP Season 81 Men’s Basketball Tournament at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on November 10.
UP’s big three combined for 55 points with center Bright Akhuetie dominating the import-less Tigers with 25 points and 18 rebounds, team Captain Paul Desiderio torching them with 19 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists, and guard Juan Gomez De Liano dazzling with an all-around performance of 11 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists.
Both teams traded blows in a fast-paced first quarter where Desiderio and UST guard Renzo Subido led their teams with 7 points apiece. But UP’s turnovers piled up to trail the Tigers, 19-22, at the end of the quarter.
UST’s dynamic backcourt duo of Subido and team captain Marvin Lee would wreak havoc from downtown by pouring in four consecutive threes at the start of the second quarter to increase their lead, 34-26. But the eventual ankle injury on super rookie CJ Cansino would prove to be costly as UP took advantage of the slasher’s loss and spark a 16-4 run lead by Juan’s playmaking to regain the lead, 42-38.
Maroons never looked back as they outscored the Tigers, 41-31, in the second half through fastbreaks and inside points. Bright contributed the most damage with 17 of his 25 points in the half alone through layups, putbacks, and post moves to cruise the team to a double-digit win and stave off Subido and Lee’s combined 48-point effort.
With this win, UP’s record went up to 7-6, good for fourth place while UST fell to 5-8 to fall out of the final four contention.
“The best thing that this win has done for us is to place us in a position to fight for that slot… We cannot overthink this because there is a much more crucial game on Wednesday,” said UP head coach Bo Perasol.
UP eyes to clinch the last Final Four spot against the current third ranked De La Salle University Green Archers on Wednesday, November 14, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
UP 83 – Akhuetie 25, Desiderio 19, Ju. Gomez de Liaño 11, Jaboneta 9, Murell 6, Manzo 5, Prado 3, Vito 3, Ja. Gomez de Liaño 2, Lim 0, Tungcab 0, Spencer 0, Española 0, Gozum 0, Longa 0
UST 69 – Lee 26, Subido 22, Bataller 7, Mahinay 4, Marcos 3, Huang 2, Cansino 2, Caunan 2, Zamora 1, Agustin 0, Bonleon 0
Quarters: 19-22, 42-38, 63-54, 83-69