by: Anton Onato
MANILA – The curse is finally over. The game’s rain of sweat ends the win drought.
The University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons managed to put an end to their 27-game losing streak yesterday by defeating the woeful Adamson University Falcons, 77-64, at the MOA Arena.
Mikee Reyes led the Maroons side with 28 points, five rebounds and three assists, while JR Gallarza chipped in 24 points off an impressive 67 percent or 8 of 12 shooting from the field alongside six rebounds, three steals and two assists. Prized sophomore Kyles Lao shared 10 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Celedonio Trollano topscored the Adamson squad with 24 points, nine rebounds, two assists and two steals while Jansen Rios had 20 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two steals.
“They considered this as the championship game so the intensity of the game is different,” Reyes said. “We knew everyone was going to be there — friends, supporters, even the doubters. That’s funny because finally they see something in us that we can perform despite that 0-6 start.”
Forward Rios’s early baskets gave the Falcons a 13-7 lead early in the first quarter to no avail as Reyes and Gallarza responded with their own 10-0 run pushing the Maroons ahead, 17-13.
Gallarza went to work and extended his scoring ways to 11 points at the start of the second quarter, before Adamson exploded six together to trim the deficit to just four, 23-19.
The duo of Reyes and Gallarza continued to keep the Falcons at bay, enough for a 39-25 advantage.
Five consecutive baskets from Don Trollano followed by a late Ryan Monteclaro trey gave Adamson some glimmer of hope going to halftime trimming the lead to just eight points, 40-32.
UP started to work again and enforced a 12-0 run to open the third frame behind Gallarza’s perimeter shots, 52-34. Reyes joined the juggernaut and scored more baskets as Adamson’s trio of Trollano, Rios and Ivan Villanueva stringed some points, 66-46.
The Maroons looked fiercer in the final canto as they jumped around in huddle before stepping on the court. Dan Palami said, according to Reyes, that they will have incentives that will make them happy if they win this game.
However, the Falcons did not lose the game without giving a fight.
Veteran Adamson pair of Trollano and Rios sustained the momentum in the fourth and orchestrated a 12-4 tear to push the Falcons within striking distance, 60-70, with 3:01 remaining.
A trey from Gallarza with 1:41 to go ended Adamson’s hopes for a comeback. Trollano managed to sink a trey off their pressing against UP’s offense and made it a nine-point game with 45 seconds remaining, 73-64.
Lao sank his charities for a 75-64 lead with 37.3 ticks left which secured the victory for the Maroons.
With the win, UP is now at 7th place with a 1-6 record. Adamson, on the other hand, remains winless in six outings.
“This is my first UAAP win since 2009,” the 23-year-old Reyes said. “It’s a big thing for me, as pathetic as it sounds. Masarap, masarap talaga manalo (It feels good to win.).”
Meanwhile, a bonfire party was held at the Sunken Garden tonight as promised by team’s manager Dan Palami.
UP (77): Reyes 28, Gallarza 24, Lao 10, Juruena 4, Asilum 4, Gingerich 2, Moralde 2, Lim 2, Amar 1, Vito 0, Harris 0.
Adamson (64): Trollano 24, Rios 20, Monteclaro 5, Nalos 4, Villanueva 3, Iñigo 3, Ochea 2, Baytan 2, Polican 1, Barrera 0, Garcia 0, Aquino 0, Pedrosa 0.
Quarter scores: 19-13, 42-32, 66-46, 77-64.