by Adrian Taningco
Sophomore guard Jett Manuel’s hot shooting blazed the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons to a shocking 76-63 win over the second seeded Far Eastern University Tamaraws in the 74th UAAP basketball tournament at the Araneta Coliseum on Thursday.
Manuel once again showed his prolific showing in the season, scoring 20 points off the bench as the Maroons snapped a three-game losing skid.
“We’re all happy and excited we got our second win. It was a really big win for us,” said Manuel.
Forward Mike Silungan scored 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds, while center Alinko Mbah added 14 markers and seven boards for UP.
Meanwhile, reigning Most Valuable Player Ryan Roose Garcia led the way for the Tamaraws with 17 points.
UP stood toe-to-toe with FEU in the first two quarters, trading baskets with the favored Tamaraws. The Maroons ended the half clinging to a slim margin, 28-25.
The Maroons edged in the second half when it extended its lead to nine in the third quarter, capped by Manuel’s buzzer beating jumper.
Since then, UP never looked back, as the Maroons tallied its biggest lead of the game at 17 in the fourth quarter, with Manuel pumping in 12 points to seal the victory.
Coach Ricky Dandan was pleased with Manuel’s performance postgame, calling him an “emerging” player. But Manuel was quick to deflect the newly found attention on him.
“I really wasn’t thinking about scoring 20, I just wanted to win, whatever it took,” said Manuel, who leads the Maroons in scoring this season with 15 points per game. “The team played really well and that’s how we got the win.”