UP MBT absorbs shock loss, WBT falls anew to La Salle

The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons found themselves on the losing end last weekend after soaking up a pair of defeats against the De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Archers in their second-round encounter of the UAAP Season 85 collegiate basketball tournaments.

Late-game meltdown

The UP Men’s Basketball Team were unable to sustain their seven-game win streak as they suffered an 82-80 loss to the DLSU Green Archers on Nov. 20 at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The defeat effectively denied the defending champions an outright twice-to-beat advantage entering the Final Four. 

After a seemingly slow start from both teams, the ballgame eventually picked up as La Salle’s Mike Phillips muscled for a sensational poster slam, only to be countered by Zavier Lucero and Malick Diouf for an early tie at 10-all. 

The maroon shirts held a slim margin by the end of the first quarter, 18-14. 

Both squads continued to play impressive offense in the next frame before UP went on a blitz that rendered La Salle scoreless in close to three minutes, only receiving a response in the form of an Evan Nelle drive.

Zavier Lucero squeaks through the La Salle defense for a lay-up. Photo by Guinevere Latoza

The tides, however, would dramatically turn in the second half.

The Maroons squandered a 12-point lead midway into the third quarter as La Salle deployed full-court pressure to keep UP’s offense in check. Mark Nonoy provided the offensive stops for the green-and-white, delivering a total of 13 points in that quarter alone. 

The momentum completely shifted to La Salle’s favor in the final salvo, thanks to the heroics of Philips and Jerom Abadam who conspired to bring the Archers their first taste of the lead at 65-63.

It was all downhill for the Maroons at that point as La Salle capitalized on its ramped-up offense to establish a 79-69 lead. 

Lucero and JD Cagulangan shot back-to-back triples in an attempt to bring UP back into the match, but Kevin Quiambao had other plans for La Salle as he sank two clutch free throws with 11.3 ticks left, 82-78. 

Diouf nailed another basket at the buzzer, but his effort proved to be too late as the Archers completed the double-digit comeback.

Lucero led three other Maroons in double figures with 15 points. Diouf engineered another double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds. 

Meanwhile, Quiambao stepped up big time in the absence of ace player Schonny Winston, punching in 18 points for La Salle’s victory.

In a precarious position

The Final Four chances of the UP Women’s Basketball Team are now hanging by a thread after the squad fell to the DLSU Lady Archers, 86-67, on Nov. 19 at the UST Quadricentennial Pavilion. 

With the loss, the Lady Maroons find themselves in a must-win situation against their remaining matchups.

UP started out strong to lead La Salle by a small margin, 25-21.

However, the Archers responded with a scoring barrage in the second chapter, courtesy of Bettina Binaohan, to eventually overtake the maroon shirts, 51-35.

UP tried to trim the deficit with its own run at the start of the second half, capped off by a Kaye Pesquera triple.

But the Archers only tightened their grip on the lead, which they widened to 16 points in the final minutes of the game. Bea Dalisay’s shot from beyond the arc ultimately sealed the win for La Salle. 

Christie Bariquit paced the Maroons with 18 points, while Pesquera discharged 14 markers. Team captain Justine Domingo flirted with a triple-double with nine points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists.

Meanwhile, Binaohan took charge for La Salle, with 21 points and eight rebounds.

The Fighting Maroons briefly return to the drawing board before they clash in an all-important matchup against the UST Growling Tigers on Nov. 23. 

UP MBT QUARTER SCORES: 18-14, 41-35, 63-59, 80-82

UP WBT QUARTER SCORES:  25-21, 35-51, 55-68, 67-86