The UP Fighting Maroons kicked off their second round with a win against the NU Bulldogs, 78-76, at the Araneta Coliseum Saturday.
The highly physical game started with the Maroons posting an eight-point lead, 14-6, and with a play anchored on forward Miggy Maniego and center Magi Sison. But a perimeter shot from Ajeet Singh and free throws by Kokoy Hermosisima put the Bulldogs in the driver’s seat, 20-21, with two minutes remaining in the first quarter.
Midway into the second canto, four technical fouls were slapped on the Bulldogs, one of which led to Jewel Ponferrada’s ejection from the game. The sanctions followed an untoward incident between a couple of NU players and Maniego.
Missed shots from the Maroons enabled the Bulldogs to up their lead to eight points, 35-43, by halftime.
Rookie Mikee Reyes opened the second half with a three pointer, cutting NU’s lead to five points. Another perimeter shot from veteran Martin Reyes brought down NU’s lead to one, 47-48, at the seven minute mark of the third canto.
The Maroons scored 33 points in this quarter, giving them a nine point lead going into the final chapter of the game.
But the Bulldogs didn’t let the Maroons off the hook easily. Hermosisima and his teammates made it a one possession ball game at the final minute, 78-75. A smart foul by rookie Moriah Gingerich killed NU’s hopes of sending the game into overtime, securing the Maroons their second win of the season.
Martin Reyes led the Maroons with 17 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steal.
Miggy Maniego and Mikee Reyes also had a good showing, with 15 and 14 points, respectively.
“This is a really nice way to start the second round,” says head coach Aboy Castro. He notes that their defense is really helping and they were able to make several stops that enabled them to pull off this win.
They acknowledge that there’s still quite a long way to go, and their mindset, says Martin Reyes is, “We can’t lose anymore this round.”