Photo by Cleverlyn Mayuga
Text by Luisa Morales
The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons failed to end the first round on a high note, losing to the National University (NU) Bulldogs, 70-77, today at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena.
UP held the lead early in the first, courtesy of Maroon guard Diego Dario’s six points in the quarter.
Building off their momentum, State U’s offense continued to show in the second. The Diliman team had several chances to push the lead to double digits but settled for a nine point lead at halftime, 38-29.
The second half would spell trouble for UP. At the eight minute mark, Diliman Rookie Jun Manzo went down after NU Bulldog Issa Gaye accidentally stepped on his heel.
Manzo would eventually sit out the rest of the game. UP struggled after his exit but still managed to end the third within a trey’s reach, 53-56.
Despite State U’s hustle to get back in the fourth, UP could only manage a deadlock at 70-all with a minute and a half remaining.
The Bulldogs would eventually fire up a 7-0 run at the last minute to grab the win, 77-70.
Overall, it was a close game with 10 deadlocks and seven lead changes throughout the match.
Manzo’s injury left a big hole in the Maroons’ offense, only managing six points in 17 minutes. UP skipper Paul Desiderio led the squad with 15, followed by Dario contributing 11 points.
Javi Gomez de Liano had a good all around game with 10 points, 8 boards and 6 assists.
“He’s hurting right now. I’m just hoping he’ll be able to play in the next games because everybody knows that he’s going to be needed sa campaign namin,” UP head coach Bo Perasol said on Manzo after the game.
UP plummets to sixth place with a 3-4 record after the first round.
“Hindi pwedeng muntik na tayo manalo eh, we just have to find a way to get through that hump… It shouldn’t have been easy but we could’ve been 5-2 right now instead of 3-4,” Perasol lamented after losing two close games.
Despite a three-game losing streak to end the first round, Perasol remains hopeful going into the next set of games.