MANILA, Philippines – The UP Fighting Maroons got back on the win column after surviving the UE Red Warriors, 78-75, in the UAAP Season 82 men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena on Saturday, October 12.
With the win, the Maroons rose to a 6-3 record to solidify their hold of 2nd place while the Warriors dented their playoff hopes as they slid to 3-7.
Kobe Paras took charge in the final stretch as the Maroons secured their first win minus coach Bo Perasol, who served the second of a three-game suspension.
Reigning MVP Bright Akhuetie, bucking a sprained ankle early in the game, finished with a double-double of 18 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Maroons.
Jun Manzo dropped 17 points to finish just two short of his career-high, while Paras collected 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals as UP halted a two-game skid.
Ricci Rivero – who posted his first double-digit finish for UP – and Javi Gomez de Liaño also scored 10 apiece for the Maroons.
“We were able to bounce back,” said UP deputy coach Ricky Dandan. “In the perfect basketball world, we would have wanted a more convincing one, but we’ll take this, of course, because we’ve come from back-to-back losses.”
Off a 27-8 UP lead in the 1st quarter, UE found their groove in the 2nd as they tied the game up, 41-all, with a massive 20-2 run capped by an Alex Diakhite layup with 1:10 left.
Although the Maroons re-established control in the 3rd and led by as many as 17, 65-48, at the 1:40 mark, the Warriors again got back within striking distance late in the 4th much like their 2nd quarter run.
After Jem Cruz got the kind bounce on his trey as UE inched UP within 3, 66-69, Paras responded with a long bomb of his own at the 2:20 mark to push the lead to 5, 72-67.
Akhuetie then sealed the deal with a putback off a Rivero miss for the 76-69 advantage in the final 1:10 of regulation.
UE big man Alex Diakhite recorded a monster 28-point, 20-rebound double-double, albeit with 10 turnovers, in the losing effort.
UP 78 – Akhuetie 18, Manzo 17, Paras 14, Ja. Gomez de Liano 10, Rivero 10, Ju. Gomez de Liano 4, Mantilla 3, Tungcab 2, Gob 0, Prado 0, Webb 0.
UE 75 – Diakhite 28, Suerte 17, Manalang 10, Cruz 7, Conner 6, Antiporda 3, Pagsanjan 2, Tolentino 2, Abanto 0, Apacible 0, Mendoza 0.
Quarters: 27-10, 46-41, 65-50, 78-75.