By Marisse Gabrielle Panaligan
It was a ghost that haunted them the entire season. Now, it is no ghost anymore.
The UP Fighting Maroons made a repeat of its own record as they finished with a 0-14 slate after succumbing into the hot hands of the UE Red Warriors, 61-67, in the 73rd season of the UAAP Saturday at the Araneta Coliseum.
While it was a first time for the other players, veterans Woody Co, Martin Reyes, and Magi Sison experienced the feat twice in their career, the first during Season 70 in 2007.
Sison posted his best finish in the season, uncorking 21 points and grabbing 17 rebounds, but it was not the same for Co and Reyes.
Co is suffering from an ankle injury since La Salle game in the second round, but still played today since it is his last game in UAAP. The team captain wrapped up the season with nine points and nine rebounds.
Reyes had been the most affected among the three, not scoring a ball against the Warrior defense.
“At least di sila bumitaw (they did not give up). Lumaban sila hanggang sa huli (they fought until the end),” said UP head coach Boyet Fernandez.
Sison fired 10 of his 21 points in the first quarter, but the Warriors easily nullified behind the shooting of Paul Lee and Raphy Reyes, 14-21.
The Maroons closed in during the dying seconds of the second canto at 29-31, but Kenneth Acibar sneaked a basket and Reyes shot from beyond-the-arc just before the buzzer to bring the lead back to seven.
The Warriors opened the second half with a 12-0 run. It was not until halfway through the third when the Maroons clawed back behind Co’s triple.
Battling an 18-point deficit with roughly two minutes remaining in the game, the Maroons suddenly snapped back to life behind Alvin Padilla’s field goals and Mike Silungan’s three-pointer that cut the lead to 10 within a minute left.
The Maroons tried to send the game into overtime, but a minute proved to be too short a time to catch up, 67-61.
“A lot of things went wrong, but I couldn’t ask for a better rookie season,” said Silungan, who wound up with nine points, three rebounds, four assists, and two steals.
Meanwhile, Fernandez sees a different UP team next season with new players like Benilde veteran Gelo Montecastro, who, according to him, will stabilize the point guard position for the Maroons.