UP escapes NU, clinches Final Four playoff
MANILA, Philippines – The UP Fighting Maroons needed another cardiac game to down the NU Bulldogs, 80-77, in the UAAP Season 82 men’s basketball tournament at the Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday, October 23.
With the win, the Maroons matched their win total from last season and clinched at least a playoff for the Final Four with an 8-4 slate while the also-ran Bulldogs dropped to 2-10.
Jun Manzo, Bright Akhuetie, and Kobe Paras took charge as the Maroons completed a season sweep of the Bulldogs.
Paras tried to keep NU out of arm's reach with a pull-up triple at the three-minute mark, 77-70, but Dave Ildefonso responded in kind with a trey of his own in the next possession, 73-77.
After consecutive fumbled possessions down the stretch, JV Gallego atoned for his mistakes with a crafty spin layup to inch within 2 points, 75-77, with 57 ticks left.
NU had a chance to take the game, but John Lloyd Clemente's mid-range jumper at the 22-second mark clanked off. Manzo then hit two free throws off a duty foul for a 79-75 UP lead.
But Manzo left the window open after splitting from the line, 80-77, before Shaun Ildefonso's last-gasp trey at the other end rolled off as time expired.
"We are happy for this but we need to be better when we go deeper into the playoffs," said UP coach Bo Perasol.
Paras led the balanced effort anew with 19 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds while Manzo added 14 markers, 12 coming in the second half.
Fighting back from a 12-point hole, 11-23, early in the 2nd quarter, the Bulldogs slowly fought back and tied the game 56-all, off a Dave Ildefonso triple at the 9:18 mark of the 4th.
However, graduating UP guard Manzo turned up the heat with his triples in the clutch and helped his team go up 7, 70-64, midway through the frame off a 7-2 run.
Dave Ildefonso paced the losing effort with 24 points, 6 boards and 6 dimes while Gallego chipped in a career-high 20 markers on an 8-of-16 shooting.
In the first round, the Maroons also narrowly edged the Bulldogs in an 80-79 thriller.
UP 80 – Paras 19, Akhuetie 16, Manzo 14, Ju. Gomez de Liano 11, Rivero 8, Webb 5, Ja. Gomez de Liano 4, Prado 3, Gozum 0, Jaboneta 0, Murrell 0, Tungcab 0.
NU 77 – D. Ildefonso 24, Gallego 20, Oczon 12, S. Ildefonso 10, Gaye 6, Joson 2, Minerva 2, Galinato 1, Clemente 0, Diputado 0, Malonzo 0, Mangayao 0, Rangel 0, Yu 0.
Quarters: 13-11, 32-25, 56-51, 80-77.