The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons reasserted their mastery over the University of the East (UE) Red Warriors, scoring a pair of emphatic victories to boost their respective campaigns in the UAAP Season 85 collegiate basketball tournaments.
With last weekend’s results, the men’s team secured the first Final Four berth this season and its fourth straight semis appearance in the tourney. Meanwhile, the women’s squad arrested a three-game losing streak to remain in the hunt for a Final Four spot.
No way but up
The UP Men’s Basketball Team (UP MBT) solidified its hold of the top spot after pouncing on the UE Red Warriors, 83-69, last Nov. 5 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Malick Diouf led the onslaught with an impressive statline of 23 points, 15 rebounds and four assists to help UP punch a ticket to the Final Four.
The defending champions erupted with a 12-0 scoring burst in the opening frame to eventually end the first half on top, 49-33.
The Warriors started to pick up the pace after halftime, courtesy of Gani Stevens and the Paranada brothers, who connived for a 22-point production in the third quarter.
UE’s newfound momentum, however, was quickly doused by the Maroons as Cyril Gonzales capped a 10-0 blitz during the final minutes with a shot from the three-point arc.
Despite last-minute efforts by Stevens to salvage the match, State U only stepped on the gas as Gonzales shot another basket to secure the victory.
UP MBT head coach Goldwin Monteverde zeroed in on the importance of sustaining the team’s improved connection on court.
“We started well. We moved the ball well, especially in the first quarter. ‘Yun lang, towards the second quarter, we just need to learn to sustain what we started,” Monteverde said.
“The way I see it, nag-iimprove naman kami in terms of ‘yung chemistry namin. Ang importante, ma-sustain namin,” he added.
Zavier Lucero backed Diouf’s output with 17 points, while Terrence Fortea and Harold Alarcon chipped in 10 markers apiece.
Meanwhile, Stevens’ career-high 23 points went for naught as UE absorbed its sixth loss of the season.
Venting its ire
Coming off three consecutive defeats, the UP Women’s Basketball Team finally returned to the win column after hacking out a 67-32 victory over the hapless UE Lady Warriors last Nov. 6 at the UST Quadricentennial Pavilion.
UP displayed their offensive prowess in the breakthrough win, successfully converting 26 of UE’s 38 turnovers into points.
The Maroons opened the match in dominant fashion, establishing an early double-digit lead over the Warriors, 21-9.
UE’s Kamba Kone came in hot in the second salvo, downing back-to-back baskets to keep the red-and-white shirts within distance. UP, however, flaunted a tighter defense from there on out, limiting the Warriors’ scoring production in the third quarter to a measly 5 points.
State U never looked back in the final frame, with Roxanne Lara firing a triple to finish UP’s 35-point blowout over UE.
Justine Domingo led the Maroons with 15 points, while Cindi Gonzales produced a remarkable double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds.
Kone and Claire Sajol only managed eight points apiece for the Warriors, who remained winless after ten matchups.
With their eyes set on at least a playoff spot, UP WBT head coach Paul Ramos looks forward to winning their remaining assignments.
“We’re just focusing on winning all the remaining games so that may opportunity kami na that if our opponents will falter, then we’ll get a chance to be in the Final Four,” Ramos said.
The Fighting Maroons will take a week-long break before they return to action on Nov. 17 against the FEU Tamaraws.
UP MBT QUARTER SCORES: 35-18, 49-33, 63-55, 83-69
UP WBT QUARTER SCORES: 21-9, 34-19, 50-24, 67-32