The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons had a rough outing yesterday after enduring back-to-back losses to the National University (NU) Bulldogs in the UAAP Season 85 men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.
The men’s team got its first taste of defeat in the tourney, while their female counterparts took their second strike in four games.
No miracle this time
Sans head coach Goldwyn Monteverde, the Fighting Maroons fell short of what could have been another comeback win as they absorbed an 80-75 upset by the NU Bulldogs at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The opening frame featured a back-and-forth affair between the two teams, ending with the Maroons on top by one.
But the Bulldogs fought back in the second frame, taking advantage of the maroon shirts’ defensive struggles to snatch the lead and raise it to eight, 50-42.
UP’s offense came alive once more at the start of the second half as they overtook NU for a six-point lead. However, Mike Malonzo returned the favor to the Maroons with back-to-back layups to tie things at 66 apiece.
With NU regaining momentum, the defending champions found themselves on the brink of defeat during the final minutes of the game, 78-72, before Carl Tamayo nailed a triple to keep State U alive.
But their last-minute efforts all went for naught as Tamayo and Terrence Fortea failed to sink potential-tying threes in the ensuing play, giving NU its first win over UP since 2017.
Lucero delivered 22 points and eight rebounds for the Maroons, while Tamayo posted a double-double performance of 17 points and 11 rebounds.
Omar John led NU’s winning charge with 16 points to go with nine rebounds and three blocks.
Fighting Maroons assistant coach Christian Luanzon cited the team’s slow start as a big factor in their loss.
“In this game, I thought we started out flat, especially in the second quarter […] I thought we could have given more energy on both ends […] We were playing catch-up the whole time,” Luanzon said.
The defending champions now hold a 3-1 record for a three-way tie atop the standings together with NU and Ateneo De Manila University.
Back to neutral ground
Meanwhile, the UP Women’s Basketball Team (UP WBT) were unable to extend their winning streak to three after succumbing to a 79-44 beating by reigning titlists NU Lady Bulldogs at the UST Quadricentennial Pavilion.
The Maroons were off to a slow start, plunging into an early 25-point deficit in the opening salvo as Mikka Cacho and Annick Ticky covered the scoreboard for the Bulldogs.
NU maintained its double-digit lead over UP into the second half, where it continued to display dominance over the maroon shirts in all aspects.
Despite putting up a six-point run at the end of the final frame, the Maroons still could not tame the Bulldogs, who dropped two triples in a row to secure the lead and the win.
Acrissa Maw was the lone bright spot for UP with 12 points and four rebounds. Pat Pesquera, who played impressively in their last two games, had a quiet outing with nine points.
Mikka Cacho was at the helm of NU’s 100th straight win in the women’s basketball tourney, tallying 15 points and eight rebounds.
The UP WBT now ties with the Adamson Lady Falcons at 2-2 in the standings.
The Fighting Maroons seek to bounce back from their losses as they collide against the Ateneo Blue Eagles on Oct. 16, with the the women’s team taking the court at 10:00 a.m at the UST Quadricentennial Pavilion, and the men’s team seeing action at the Mall of Asia Arena at 4:30 p.m.
UP MBT QUARTER SCORES: 24-23, 42-50, 66-66, 75-80
UP WBT QUARTER SCORES: 6-31, 18-47, 29-59, 44-79