by Yski Rualo
With no Mike Gamboa in tow, the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons succumbed to the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers’ fierce charge.
The Tigers capped off the game with a solid second half performance to edge out the Maroons, 69-58, in the UAAP Men’s Basketball Tournament Wednesday at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
Gamboa, the Maroons’ veteran point guard, missed the game due to flu. Rookie guard Henry Asilum was given the nod to his first start of the season.
Center Karim Abdul led the Tigers with a double-double, finishing with 20 markers and 12 boards. Guard Clark Bautista and forward Kim Lo contributed 12 and 11 points, respectively.
For the Maroons, team captains Mike Silungan and Mark Lopez combined for 20 points and nine rebounds. Asilum added nine markers, all off three-pointers.
UP was able to keep the game close until halftime at 33 apiece, but UST outscored the team in the second half, 36-25, and sealed their fifth victory of the season.
In the fourth quarter, Silungan scored back-to-back treys to cut the Tigers’ lead down to two, 53-51, with 6:06 remaining.
From the 5:39 mark onwards, UST blew the game wide open leading off a 16-7 run to close out UP, 69-58.
Asilum said that despite losing all its previous games, the Maroons are psyching themselves to win against the University of the East Red Warriors in their showdown on Sunday.
“Iniisip talaga naming dapat manalo na kami kasi sawa na kami sa talo (We’re really thinking we should win already because we’re tired of losing),” he said.
While the Maroons fell to solo eighth place with a 0-6 record, the UE Red Warriors booked their first win of the season against Adamson University Soaring Falcons to improve to 1-5.