UAAP Basketball

Zavier Lucero erupts for career game as UP survives feisty La Salle for solo 2nd

JR Isaga
Zavier Lucero erupts for career game as UP survives feisty La Salle for solo 2nd

BREAKOUT. UP star recruit Zavier Lucero continues his rise with a massive double-double finish against La Salle

UAAP Season 84 Media Team

Touted UP recruit Zavier Lucero explodes for a 21-point, 14-rebound double-double with 9 offensive boards as the Maroons clinch solo second place in a nail-biter against La Salle

MANILA, Philippines – Zavier Lucero had the game of his young life for UP as the Fighting Maroons escaped the La Salle Green Archers in a nail-biter, 61-59, in the UAAP Season 84 men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena on Thursday, April 7.

With the win, the Maroons won their fifth straight game since dropping the opener to Ateneo with a 5-1 record for solo second place, all while dropping the Archers to third with a 4-2 slate.

Lucero has fast-tracked his development since his quiet debut, and exploded for a huge 21-point, 14-rebound double-double with 9 offensive boards, plus 2 steals, and 1 block to boot on 9-of-15 shooting. The Fil-Am recruit capped his stellar performance with the deciding putback inside the final two minutes.

Joel Cagulangan continued his rise as the Maroons’ top point guard with a 5-point, 7-assist, 5-board line as team leader Ricci Rivero was held scoreless on 6 attempts in 16 minutes due to early foul trouble and sloppy ball-handling.

Both teams endured horrible offensive performances, but still engineered a thriller as they were knotted up 59-all at the 2:41 mark of the fourth off a Schonny Winston triple.

However, Lucero continued his menacing work on the boards deep into clutch time, and responded with a go-ahead putback layup at the 1:48 mark for the 61-59 UP lead.

That would turn out to be the last time the scoreboard moved for both sides as scrappy La Salle forward Mike Phillips clanked off his buzzer-beating floater off a strong drive in the last play with 3.8 seconds left.

“I felt that for the whole game, we struggled offensively, but it’s a good thing our defense picked up especially in the fourth,” said UP head coach Goldwin Monteverde in Filipino.

Former San Beda guard Evan Nelle saw his UAAP career-best 13-point outing go to waste as veteran Justine Baltazar paced the Archers with a 13-point, 10-board double-double. Mike Phillips scored 9 with 8 boards, 4 on the offensive end.

UP survived La Salle despite having a whopping 23 turnovers compared to just 12 assists. The Maroons also shot 29% for the game, but the Archers were no better after a 31% shooting performance with 19 miscues.

The Maroons can make it six straight wins on Saturday, April 9, as they wrap up the first round with a 7 pm assignment against the up-and-down FEU Tamaraws.

Meanwhile, La Salle shoots for a positive end to the first round with a 1 pm game against the Adamson Soaring Falcons.

The Scores

UP 61 – Lucero 21, Tamayo 9, Cansino 9, Spencer 7, Diouf 7, Cagulangan 5, Fortea 3, Rivero 0, Alarcon 0, Abadiano 0.

La Salle 59 – Baltazar 13, Nelle 13, M. Phillips 9, Nonoy 9, Winston 7, Lojera 3, Galman 3, Nwankwo 2, Austria 0, B. Phillips 0, Cuajao 0.

Quarters: 17-17, 32-35, 43-48, 61-59.

– Rappler.com

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