Bittersweet end in elims for UP with MBT stinger, WBT victory vs Ateneo

The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons closed out the UAAP Season 85 collegiate basketball elimination round with an unfortunate loss in the men’s tournament and a resounding win on the women’s side during their second-round clash against the Ateneo Blue Eagles last Nov. 26.

Eye for an eye

In what could have been a repeat of their first-round matchup win, the UP Men’s Basketball Team instead yielded to the Ateneo Blue Eagles, 75-67, in their final game-day of the eliminations at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

With the victory, Ateneo nabbed the second twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four, consequently putting State U on the brink of losing the top spot in the standings. 

Scoreless in the first two minutes, Carl Tamayo responded to the early 5-0 run by the blue-and-white with an emphatic triple. A red-hot Forthsky Padrigao drained a floater and a corner trey to down UP by nine, 14-5. 

Padrigao continued to repel the Maroons’ defense to power a 23-16 dumping, but Henry Galinato Jr. scored a dime to cut the deficit to five entering the second quarter, 23-18.

Just as the tides looked completely in favor of the blue side, James Spencer and Cagulangan came alive for UP in the second frame with back-to-back triples for a 31-all count.

Malick Diouf continued the salvo with a poster slam off a Cagulangan dime approaching the three-minute mark, 33-31. But it was Padrigao yet again who closed the quarter, trimming the Maroons’ margin to two, 37-35.

Malick Diouf goes for a wide-open slam during the Maroons’ second-round clash against the Ateneo Blue Eagles, Nov. 26. Photo by Glecelyn Simba

Cagulangan opened the third frame with a fired three, only to see the same shot by Dave Ildefonso minutes later at 42-all. 

After a series of seesaw encounters, Ildefonso shot from downtown to cut UP’s lead to a single point, 49-48, as the Blue Eagles erupted for a 5-0 run to end the canto on top, 53-49.

Ateneo started to dominate the fourth quarter with a 7-0 spurt off a Matthew Daves left-hand drive, an Ange Kouame hook and an Ildefonso corner triple, 60-49. 

State U’s response came minutes later in the form of a Cagulangan side three, which BJ Andrade later offset using the same shot, 65-53. 

UP momentarily regrouped, but a fadeaway from Daves and a three from Gab Gomez dumped the maroon shirts, 73-60. 

Tamayo led a 6-0 run that brought a glimmer of hope for UP approaching the two-minute mark, but several technical fouls and missed shots eventually cost them their doom.

Tamayo top-scored for the Maroons with 20 points to go with 10 rebounds, while Harold Alarcon contributed 10 points. 

Zav Lucero, who has played superbly in UP’s previous matches, was rendered scoreless in the loss.

Ildefonso showed the way for the Eagles with 15 markers. 

UP still sits atop the leaderboard with an 11-3 slate as Ateneo trails behind by a win. An Ateneo victory over the Adamson Soaring Falcons on Nov. 30 would push UP down to second. 

The UAAP has yet to release the Final Four schedule as the last Final Four ticket is still being disputed by Adamson and the DLSU Green Archers.

A big finish 

Meanwhile, the UP Women’s Basketball Team (UP WBT) wrapped up their campaign on a winning note as it engineered an 84-57 upset over Final Four-bound Ateneo Lady Eagles at the UST Quadricentennial Pavilion.

The Maroons ended the eliminations in fifth place with a 6-8 record, a considerable improvement from the 1-13 card they previously held in Season 81.

“We’re just so happy that the players and the whole team feel this way at the end of our last game sa season namin,” UP WBT head coach Paul Ramos said.

He added, “They deserve this win. They proved a lot of things for themselves.”

It was a neck-and-neck affair in the opening half, with Christie Bariquit and Sandra Dela Cruz pacing the offense of their respective teams, 34-25.

UP, sustaining its strong start, began to pull away in the third as several players came off the bench and delivered 15 impact points for a 59-41 tally. 

Kacey Dela Rosa tried to pump life into the blue-and-white, downing back-to-back dimes to open the final frame. The Maroons, however, continued to flex their heavy hand in the match, even leading by as much as 30 points at 3:27, courtesy of Stiffany Larrosa’s charity.

State U received very little resistance from the Lady Eagles in the final minutes as Jona Lebico went for a drive to secure the 27-point blowout.

Bariquit led UP with 20 points, while team captain Justine Domingo posted a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Dela Rosa was the lone player from Ateneo who breached double-digit scoring with 17 points. 

Despite falling short of the semifinals, Ramos nevertheless lauded his team for putting in the hard work in their season-ending victory. 

He added, “It shows that there’s a lot of good things ahead of us, particularly what we showed in this game. It’s a preview of hopefully our next seasons to come.”

UP MBT QUARTER SCORES: 18-23, 37-35, 49-53, 67-75

UP WBT QUARTER SCORES: 17-15, 34-25, 59-41, 84-57