Photo by Cleverlyn Mayuga

Text by Selina Jo Paredes

After coming off a blowout loss, the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons secured a bounce-back win against the University of the East (UE) Red Warriors, 84-71, today in the UAAP Season 80 men’s basketball tournament at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum

Starting the game slow, UP found themselves in a tight spot. Pressure defense and perimeter play from the Red Warriors saw State U trailing as much as 14 points late in the first quarter.

Early in the second frame, UE got into foul trouble, making the Maroons a frequent on the stripe, shooting 3/6 free throws.

The Maroons slowly found their rhythm after a floater from Jun Manzo and back-to-back shots from Javi Gomez De Liano who completed an and-1  to give UP the lead at 34-33.

UE’s defense, however, proved to be a thorn on UP’s side as they took advantage of the Maroons’ back-to-back empty possessions late in the second and retook the lead at 38-42 after a Clark Derige three at the buzzer.

Come second half, momentum was finally in State U’s favor as the team went on a scorching run as Paul Desiderio shot lights out and outscored the Warriors 16-7 in the quarter.

Late in the third, UE found themselves in the penalty once more while the Maroons only committed two fouls the whole period. As time expired, Prado tipped in a miss to give the Maroons a 15 point lead.

UP’s run continued in the last period, stretching the lead as big as 23. Both teams traded baskets midway in the fourth, but the Red Warriors could not catch up. Ibrahim Ouattara sealed the deal with a basket with :14 remaining on the clock.  Mark Olayon with the last-ditch effort could only trim UP’s lead to 13.

Maroon Captain Desiderio ended the  game with a career-high double-double of 28 points and 10 rebounds. Ouattara, in his breakout game contributed his own double-double with 14 points and 18 boards.

“Malaking bagay talaga nawawala samin when he’s [Desiderio] not getting his regular game, what a time to get his game back.” UP Head coach Bo Perasol said.

Perasol praised Ouattara’s rebound efforts saying, “With his rebounding today, we were able to settle down on our defense unlike how we played against Ateneo when we gave up 31 second chance points.” he added.

With the win, State U improves their season record to 2-1.

This marks UP’s seventh win under Coach Bo Perasol, matching its win record from seasons 73 to 78 combined.

Derige led the Red Warriors with 21 markers and four rebounds.

The UP Fighting Maroons hope to stay in the the win column as they face the returning Ben Mbala and De La Salle University Green Archers on September 23 at the Mall of Asia Arena.


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