by David Tristan Yumol
The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons continued its slump at the hands of Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles, 43-56, in the UAAP Season 78 men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena, Wednesday.
Both teams struggled in the field as Ateneo shot 33 percent while UP had a woeful 25 percent shooting.
Paul Desiderio was the lone bright spot for the Maroons, tallying 12 points and eight rebounds. Dave Moralde added nine points as UP suffered its fourth consecutive setback after starting the season with a 2-0 record.
“Hindi pumapasok ang mga tira namin. Pero iyong defense nandyan naman, medyo off talaga ang opensa in this game,” admitted Desiderio.
UP tasted its last lead of the game in the 4:36 mark of the first quarter, 9-8, after a jumper from Desiderio. But Ateneo’s big man Arvin Tolentino led a 9-0 run in the last four minutes of the first quarter to end it with a 9-17 lead.
The Blue Eagles continued their dominance against the Maroons in the second quarter by tallying a 9-1 run in the first six minutes. They even limit the Diliman-based cagers to only eight points to grab a 19-point lead after the first half, 36-17.
Ateneo’s bench, led by John Apacible, contributed 16 points in the first half as compared to only a point from UP.
The Maroons tallied a 7-0 run at the start of the third canto to trim the lead of the Loyola-based cagers, 24-36. Tough defense in the paint from the Blue Eagles, however, derailed the comeback threat of the Maroons to still trail after three quarters, 31-45.
A low scoring fourth quarter secured the win for the Blue Eagles, notching its fourth win in their last six games.
Kiefer Ravena registered double-double numbers with 11 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Blue Eagles in victory. Von Pessumal chipped in with 11 points also.
“Ateneo had a really big advantage in the inside. Our defense was a bit too slow in this game,” said forward Jerson Prado, who starred and played more than his usual game minutes finishing with eight points and 11 boards.
UP head coach Rensy Bajar promised to bounce back in their game against Adamson University this Sunday still at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“We must learn from the mistakes that we had here. We had many good looks but those failed to convert,” stressed Bajar.
ADMU 56 – Ravena 11, Pessumal 11, Apacible 8, Tolentino A. 8, Nieto 4, Gotladera 4, Pingoy 3, Capacio 2, Wong 2, Ikeh 1, Tolentino M. 1, Black 1, Cani 0, Babilonia 0.
UP 43 – Desiderio 12, Moralde 9, Prado 8, Amar 6, Asilum 5, Dario 2, Kone 1, Manuel 0, Lim 0, Harris 0, Gallarza 0, Longa 0, Vito 0, Jaboneta 0.
Quarterscores: 17-9, 36-17, 45-31, 56-43.