The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons had bittersweet fates in their second-round opener of the UAAP Season 85 collegiate basketball tournaments after gaining split results against the National University (NU) Bulldogs yesterday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The men’s team avenged their lone defeat in the first round, while the women’s squad absorbed their fifth loss of the season.
The UP Men’s Basketball Team (MBT) opened their second-round campaign with a 75-63 retaliation against NU Bulldogs, thanks to the clutch heroics of rookie Cyril Gonzales.
Scoring 12 of his career-high 15 points in the final chapter, Gonzales led the Maroons’ late flight that tamed the Bulldogs in the last four minutes.
UP trailed by as much as six in the first not until Terrence Fortea shot two of three from the line and Zavier Lucero drained a buzzer-beater triple that sliced the deficit into one, 21-22.
The Bulldogs, however, reprised with a dream start in the second, and it was Mike Malonzo’s trips to the charity stripe that widened the edge to 11. UP cruised closer with Henry Galinato Jr.’s success on the shaded lane and James Spencer’s breakaway shot off a JD Cagulangan pass, countered only by a Steve Nash Enriquez drive in between.
Lucero ended the canto in the same fashion as the previous, catapulting yet another buzzer-beater triple, 37-40.
“Like sa mga previous games namin, I really think that our defense in third quarter changed ‘yung [momentum] ng game,” UP MBT head coach Goldwin Monteverde said.
He added. “We tied it up on defense, not tulad ng first half na ang daming dribble penetrations ng NU, but guys adjusted well and na-prevent namin yung mga maraming penetrations kumpara sa first half.”
In turn, a more defensive UP swelled early in the third, 49-42, before receiving immediate counters from Kean Baclaan and John Galinato who fired back-to-back shots, 49-48.
After the deadlock-riddled quarter, Gonzales’ drive from a Malick Diouf pass upped the Maroons’ lead by seven, which NU negated with a collective 8-0 spurt, 62-63.
Those were the Bulldogs’ last howls.
Going above and beyond, Gonzales produced from downtown and from underneath the rim, scoring seven of UP’s last 13 points to complete a 75-63 revenge against their first-round tormentor.
“I guess, aside sa defense namin kanina, starting pa lang n’ong third hanggang na-carry-over to the fourth, na-sustain namin ‘yung depensang maganda,” Monteverde said, pertaining to the turning point in the final quarter that led to their holding off of NU late-game.
Lucero and Spencer chipped in 16 and 11 respectively to the winning charge, while Carl Tamayo and Henry Galinato Jr. contributed 8 apiece.
NU heavily relied on the troika of Malonzo, Enriquez, and Patrick Yu, who combined for more than half the team’s output.
Meanwhile, the UP Women’s Basketball Team (UP WBT) began their second-round stint on a losing note after suffering a 95-68 blowout by defending champions NU Lady Bulldogs.
UP struggled early on with their offense, only entering the scoreboard four minutes into the game after a three-point shot by Rhea Sanchez. The Bulldogs, however, started strong and pulled off a 10-3 run to close the opening salvo with a 12-point lead, 25-13.
The Maroons tried to keep up in the second frame as Sophia Rivera produced two points right away, but the Bulldogs bit back with a 16-5 run, with Annick Ticky and Princess Fabruada covering most of the scoreboard.
State U trailed further behind in the second half, as the reigning titlists buried the maroon shirts under a 36-point deficit in the third quarter— the widest gap of the match.
Although the Maroons briefly tamed the Bulldogs with an 11-0 run in the fourth canto, it was still not enough to cut the comfortable lead, as NU shrugged off the mini hustle with a pair of lay-ups to end the game.
Christie Bariquit paced UP with 11 points, while Justine Domingo added 10 markers.
On the other hand, Kristine Cayabyab powered the Lady Bulldogs with 17 points to secure their 104th straight victory in the tournament since 2014.
The top-seeded UP MBT, which has defeated every other squad in the tourney, will try to extend their streak against the Adamson Soaring Falcons on Nov. 2 at the MOA Arena, while the UP WBT seeks to bounce back from their loss at the UST Quadricentennial Pavilion.
UP MBT QUARTER SCORES: 21-22, 37-40, 54-52, 75-63
UP WBT QUARTER SCORES: 13-25, 28-56, 45-75, 68-95