by JM Espiritu
There’s a first time for everything, and luckily for UE, Chris Javier’s first career three-pointer came when they needed it the most.
Javier shot the first ever triple of his career off of the corner from an assist by Roi Sumang to inch the University of the East Red Warriors past the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons, 79-76, ending their nail-biter UAAP second round match-up Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“Ang thinking ko nun i-shoot e. Kasi dying seconds. So kumpyansa, kumpyansa lang sa shot,”said the San Beda high-school standout, who unleashed 20 points, along with nine rebounds and a block.
UE was first out of the gates, racing to eight points before UP could answer back three minutes into the first quarter. The Diliman-based squad shook off their slow start to gain a three point lead, 40-37, halfway through the game.
The Maroons however lost grip of the lead, as the Warriors forced a deadlock three minutes into the third quarter and slipped past the Maroons to enter the fourth quarter with a 58-68 cushion.
UP clawed their way back to tie the game at 76-all with three minutes remaining in the fourth canto.
With 36 seconds left and UP in possession of the ball, Mike Gamboa missed a crucial three-pointer. UE’s Guard Sumang grabbed the ball and let the clock wind down before taking a gamble on a pass to Javier, whose buzzer beater put the final nail in the coffin for UP.
“Actually, we were hoping to go for the drive but we were unable to do so because of the defense of UE, so we went with the three-pointer,” said UP assistant coach Jay Futalan when asked about UP’s endgame fluke.
Man of the game Javier and usual go-to guy Sumang finished the game with 20 points apiece for the Warriors, while Adrian Santos registered 10 markers of his own.
Maroon team captain Mike Silungan, Chris Ball and Alvin Padilla capped off the game with 16, 14 and 12 points respectively.
Meanwhile, UE forward Jai Flores was ejected from the game after punching UP’s Alvin Padilla in the third quarter.