UAAP Basketball

UP arrests La Salle streak in dominant Game 1 show, nears UAAP crown  

Delfin Dioquino

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UP arrests La Salle streak in dominant Game 1 show, nears UAAP crown  

SLAM. UP rookie sensation Francis Lopez takes it home in Game 1 of the UAAP finals against La Salle.

UAAP SEASON 86 MEDIA TEAM

(2nd UPDATE) After a frenetic opener, the UP Fighting Maroons take full to control to halt the La Salle Green Archers' nine-game winning streak and move within a win of reclaiming the UAAP men’s basketball crown

MANILA, Philippines – Back in the big dance for the third straight season, the University of the Philippines showed how it turned the UAAP finals series into its playground.

UP arrests La Salle streak in dominant Game 1 show, nears UAAP crown  

After a frenetic first quarter, the UP Fighting Maroons quickly took full control to dismantle the La Salle Green Archers, 97-67, in Game 1 of the Season 86 men’s basketball finals on Wednesday, November 29, at the Mall of Asia Arena. 

Francis Lopez and Harold Alarcon presided over a key third quarter as UP ended the Green Archers’ nine-game winning streak to gain a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three championship series.

Expected to be named the Rookie of the Year, Lopez scattered 9 of his 15 points in the third period and also churned out 11 rebounds to push the Fighting Maroons on the verge of reclaiming the crown they won in Season 84.

UP built a 53-41 cushion at the break before it broke the game wide open by outscoring La Salle, 24-14, in the third frame en route to the most lopsided win in a finals opener in the Final Four era.

“Our mission is to get two wins. Now, we got the first win and we got one more win we need,” said Lopez. 

Alarcon scored 8 of his 21 points in the third quarter and made significant contributions on the defensive end by helping contain MVP runaway winner Kevin Quiambao to one of his worst performances of the season.

Quiambao, who is set to be crowned the first local MVP since Ateneo great Kiefer Ravena went back-to-back in 2014 and 2015, put up just 11 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists for La Salle.

Season 85 MVP Malick Diouf controlled the boards for the Fighting Maroons with 15 rebounds on top of 9 points, while Aldous Torculas also posted a near-double-double with 9 points and 10 rebounds off the bench.

UP banked on guards JD Cagulangan (11 points) and Gerry Abadiano (10 points) as well.

While the Maroons reached the finals for the third straight season, the Archers returned to the title round for just the first time since 2017, and their inexperience showed as they struggled to buy a basket in the second half.

La Salle kept in step with top seed UP in a high-scoring opening quarter and trailed 24-28 before the Fighting Maroons slowly but surely pulled away en route to the 30-point blowout.

Michael Phillips paced the Archers with 19 points and 11 rebounds.

La Salle gaurd Mark Nonoy and Evan Nelle, who combined for 35 points in their 97-73 rout of NU in the Final Four over the weekend, were limited to just 5 and 8 points, respectively.

UP will shoot for its second championship in three seasons in Game 2 on Sunday, December 3. (SCHEDULE: UAAP Season 86 basketball)

The Scores

UP 97 – Alarcon 21, Lopez 15, Cagulangan 11, Abadiano 10, Torculas 9, Diouf 9, Cansino 5, Belmonte 5, Fortea 5, Felicilda 4, Pablo 3, Briones 0, Torres 0, Alter 0, Gagate 0.

La Salle 67 – M. Phillips 19, Quiambao 11, Nelle 8, Austria 6, Nonoy 5, Cortez 4, Gollena 4, Escandor 3, David 2, Policarpio 2, Abadam 2, Manuel 1, B. Phillips 0, Macalalag 0, Nwankwo 0.

Quarters: 28-24, 53-41, 77-55, 97-67.

– Rappler.com

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.