By Marisse Gabrielle Panaligan
Apparently, there is no deja vu.
UP Fighting Maroons failed to do a repeat of their shock win over Ateneo Blue Eagles last season, 78-53, and posted their most lopsided loss in six outings in the first round of the UAAP Men’s Basketball Tournament Thursday at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Maroons stunned the Eagles in the first round of Season 72, 68-58, bombarding the overconfident defending champs with high energy at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.
But that was 2009. This time, the Eagles made sure of their victory.
Nico Salva led the Eagles with his 18-point output, but it was Juami Tiongson and Erik Salamat who completely turned the game into their favor.
The Maroons were keeping up in the first half, but Tiongson fired two key three-pointers and Salamat earned two baskets off steals to establish the lead within a flash.
The Eagles then took turns in scoring all the way.
Now holding a 4-2 card, the Eagles joined the DLSU Archers and the AdU Falcons in a triple tie for second, right behind the undefeated FEU Tamaraws.
Test of character
The Maroons leaned on Magi Sison for a good start, but they failed to sustain the momentum coming into the second half.
Usual top scorers Mike Silungan and Woody Co—who came off a torn fascia from the FEU game—were both limited to five points, missing three-pointers and free-throws.
“We don’t think anymore, we rush our shots,” Mikee Reyes said.
End game run
The Maroons triggered a scoring run in the fourth, showing the energy they lacked in the mid-game.
A highly-spirited Alvin Padilla drilled in 11 markers, uncorking three from behind-the-arc. He also finished with nine rebounds, one steal, and one block.
Martin Reyes and Co also sank a three-pointer each, but the assault was too late since the lead was already out of hand.
Still winless in six outings, the Maroons will close the first round with a clash against the National University Bulldogs on Saturday at the Fil-Oil Flying V Arena in San Juan.