by John Remil Isaga
The University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons exacted revenge against first round tormentor Adamson University Soaring Falcons by tallying a 89-84 win to start the second round of the UAAP season 78 men’s basketball wars on a positive note at the Mall of Asia Arena, Saturday.
After a five-game losing streak, the struggling Maroons scored their way back on the win column with balanced offense all throughout. It was their third win against five losses to climb at sixth place of the team standings.
Henry Asilum led all players in scoring by recording 19 points, nine of which came from the three-point area. Starters Jett Manuel, Diego Dario and Agustini Amar provided him help with 16, 14 and 13 markers, respectively.
Reinforcement Papi Sarr finished with a double-double effort for Adamson notching 18 points and 17 boards. Interestingly, 16 of his points came from the free-throw line. Jerome Garcia added only 12 points, far from his 26-point outing in their last battle last Sunday which they won, 73-68.
The game was an all-out offensive showcase from the opening tip. Both teams caught fire early in the ball game through crisp ball movement and smart shot selection.
While the game’s pace slowed considerably down the stretch, both squads combined for 173 points, the highest total of any game this season.
Scrappy defense also played a big part for UP as they forced Adamson to commit 33 turnovers.
However, they also exposed their tendency to be too aggressive defensively. The Diliman-based cagers gave up 37 team fouls, allowing their opponents to score 33 points on 45 attempts from the charity stripe.
UP Coach Rensy Bajar gave his thoughts on the foul issues, saying, “Di ko na rin masisi yung referees (I can’t blame the referees). I guess we were a bit greedy. Every time we were on the defensive side, we always wanted the ball. Siguro part na rin yun ng discipline namin na kailangang i-improve (I think this sends a message to improve our discipline [as a team]).”
Physicality and tensions went high in the last quarter, as the Falcons pulled to within five at one point, 76-71. Injuries soon piled up the Maroons as Dario saw blood flowing from his nape area after a stray elbow from an Adamson player.
Minutes later, Asilum went down from an inadvertent knee by Adamson point guard Harold Ng to the groin. Amar was benched moments later from an apparent thigh strain and did not return.
When asked whether these consecutive injuries unsettled the team, Bajar said, “Di naman mawawala yung kaba (The nerves will always be present). But our players are tough. Matatapang sila (They are determined).”
The Soaring Falcons remained at the bottom of the team standings with their 1-7 record.
UP will face the FEU Tamaraws next on Wednesday, 4 P.M., at the Araneta Coliseum.
UP 89 – Asilum 19, Manuel 16, Dario 14, Amar 13, Desiderio 8, Longa 8, Juruena 7, Moralde 2, Harris 2, Kone 0, Jaboneta 0, Vito 0, Lim 0
ADAMSON 84 – Sarr 18, Garcia J 12, Margallo 11, Nalos 8, Ng 8, Capote 7, Tungcab 5, Garcia C 5, Escalambre 5, Polican 3, Ochea 2, Camacho 0
Quarterscores: 19-16, 44-36, 68-56, 89-84