Photo by Ally Sanga
Text by Luisa Morales
The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons are finally back on the win column at the expense of still winless University of Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers, 71-69, at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
Starting for the first time in his UAAP career, Fighting Maroon Janjan Jaboneta played flawlessly against the Espana squad. Jaboneta led the team with 12 points from 4/4 shooting from the three-point line.
It was another strong start for the Fighting Maroons, outscoring the Tigers 13-2 in the first two minutes of the match. But it seemed that UP’s offensive steam quickly ran out, only scoring a bucket in the remaining eight minutes of the period.
UST took advantage of this and went on a run of their own to lead UP, 17-15 at the end of the first.
Determined to ignite the Maroons’ offense once again, rookie Juan Gomez De Liano opened the second with a three to regain the lead, 18-17.
Both squads traded baskets and found themselves at 22-all, but a 9-0 explosive run by UP pulled them away to lead 31-22.
Stingy defense from the Diliman squad prevented the Tigers from catching up and ended the half leading by eight, 40-32.
After the half, UP’s offense didn’t falter. Despite efforts from UST to take the lead, State U still held a decent six-point lead with one quarter to go, 61-55.
Familiar with having difficulty in endgame, the Maroons made sure not to falter when it mattered the most. Tight defensive plays courtesy of Ibrahim Outtara and Paolo Romero would deny UST their first six field goals in the fourth.
But the Tigers weren’t going anywhere just yet. Foul trouble from the Maroons gave UST frequent trips to the foul line to keep them in the game.
A clutch three from UST’s Marvin Lee gave UP a scare, with the Maroons lead cut to one, 70-69 with eleven seconds to go.
Luckily for the Maroons, split free throws from Jun Manzo extended their lead to a couple, 71-69.
During the final possession, Lee heaved a hail mary three but couldn’t convert.
“We just wanted to get another win after the three loses we had, this is something that can at least perk us up, make us believe again that we can still do this” UP head coach Bo Perasol said after the game.
Overall, UP had an advantage in taking care of the ball. State U finished the game with only seven turnovers while the Tigers gave the ball away 23 times, with nine coming off Maroon steals.
Jaboneta led the Maroons with 12 while rookie Jun Manzo and skipper Paul Desiderio contributed 11 and 10 markers, respectively.
“Sobrang thankful ko lang kay coach na binigyan ako ng chance. It’s my first time to start sa UAAP career ko and di ko binigo si coach, binigay ko yung best ko” Jaboneta said.
Meanwhile Lee paced the Tigers with 17, Jorem Soriano following closely behind with 14 and Jordan Sta. Ana contributed 13.
UP improves their slate to 4-4 while UST remains winless after eight matches in the season.
State U looks to repeat their first round victory against the De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Archers when they face the defending champions on Sunday, Oct. 15.