by John Remil Isaga
The University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons failed to keep its winning streak as they were sent crashing back to earth by pesky University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers, 59-67, at the Mall of Asia Arena, Sunday.
Dubbed as the “separation of church and state”, the first round meeting between the two was highly anticipated as the teams surprisingly dominated the standings with an identical 2-0 win-loss card. UP won its opening game against UE, 62-55, and overwhelmed DLSU last Wednesday, 71-66. UST, on the other hand, prevailed against Adamson, 70-64, and shocked FEU, 72-71.
Batang Gilas Diego Dario and Paul Desiderio led the team with 15 and 12 points, respectively. Jett Manuel chipped in with nine.
Forward Ed Daquioag led UST with 27 points, 17 of which was scored in the final canto. Kevin Ferrer had 16 points and 10 boards.
“I’m one of the leaders of this team so I have to set a good example and play with a lot of confidence,” Daquioag said.
After the defeat, UP head coach Rensy Bajar said they will bounce back and will have proper mind set in the next games.
“Kailangang maramdaman namin ‘yung sakit ng pagkatalo. Pero we must move on,” he said. “We have a 24-hour rule. After that, it’s over. From there, focus na sa next game.”
The two teams struggled in the first half as they only converted 25 percent of their shots. UST’s Karim Abdul then scored from the free-throw line for a 21-15 cushion going to halftime.
The Maroons clawed their way back in the third quarter with a Jett Manuel score from the rainbow country, 27-25, to no avail as Daquioag hit a jumper to regain the lead.
Daquioag shot another dagger that stretched their lead late in the period, 37-31. Desiderio and Dario then tied the game at 37 but Ferrer answered back with a jumper and one, 40-37.
UST was on top in the final canto, 61-54, with 37 seconds left when Dario hit a layup. UST’s Renzo Subido then converted two free throws to keep his team ahead by 7.
Daquioag lost the ball after an inbound but Desiderio was unable to capitalize as he missed a floater inside the paint. Ferrer rebounded the ball and sealed the win at the line.
With the win, UST is the lone undefeated team in three outings, their best start since 1999 while UP dropped to second with 2-1 slate.
UST coach Bong Dela Cruz gave the Maroons credit for their performance after the game. “Maganda tinatakbo ng UP ngayon,” said Dela Cruz. “It was anyone’s game. Binawi na lang namin sa execution.”
The UP-UST game set an attendance record for this season, with 11,705 fans filling the MOA Arena.
Their female counterpart, meanwhile, fell short against the Golden Tigresses, 52-58, at the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagle gym earlier today.
Bea Daez led the Lady Maroons with 20 points, eight boards and three assists. Janeena Tatel scored 10 points, 10 boards, and six blocks. They dropped to 0-2 win-loss card.
The Lady Tigresses leaned on Candice Magdaluyo’s 12 points.
The Fighting Maroons will next face the Far Eastern University Tamaraws on Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum while the Lady Maroons will face Ateneo de Manila University on Thursday at the Blue Eagle gym.
UST (67): Daquioag 27, Ferrer 16, Abdul 8, Subido 4, Vigil 4, Bonleon 3, Lee 3, Sheriff 2
UP (59): Dario 15, Desiderio 12, Manuel 9, Kone 6, Gallarza 5, Moralde 4, Juruena 3, Vito 3, Lim 2
Quarter scores: 10-4, 21-15, 42-40, 67-59