Photo by Mikee Garcia

Text by Denver Del Rosario

The going gets tougher for State U.

The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons suffered another setback atthe hands of the unbeaten Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Blue Eagles, 82-96, today in the UAAP Season 80 men’s basketball tournament at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

The Diliman squad gave the Eagles a scare in today’s Battle of Katipunan, leading by as much as 12 points in the game.

The Maroons lost their rhythm in the final minutes of the last canto as the Katipunan squad took advantage and pulled away with the victory.

Rookie Juan Gomez de Liano led State U with 21 points, while captain Paul Desiderio and Jun Manzo provided 16 and 13, respectively.

Matt Nieto spearheaded Ateneo’s campaign with 19 points, registering 63% from the field, while Isaac Go and Gian Mamuyac contributed 13 each.

The opening quarter proved to be heated as both teams went back and forth. The Maroons relied heavily on Juan and Manzo for offense, ending the quarter with a slim one-point lead, 23-22.

The two squads continued to play neck and neck in the second canto, registering five deadlocks. A Juan triple and a Jarrell Lim fadeaway jumper in the last few minutes of the quarter gave State U a six-point lead going into the half, 48-42.

The Maroons took advantage of their momentum in the third quarter as they tasted their biggest lead of the game, 54-42. However, the Eagles staged a last-minute rally to end the quarter with a narrow one-point deficit, 63-64.

The Diliman squad suffered a hiccup in the last salvo as Go and Rafael Verano collaborated for Ateneo to take the driver’s seat, 68-79. Refusing to surrender, State U came back with a team effort  to tie the game, 79-all.

However, the Maroons lost steam in the last minutes of the final quarter as Ateneo went on with a 17-3 run to end the game, 82-96.

Despite the loss, UP coach Bo Perasol commends the fight he saw in his team and remains positive going into their final game of eliminations.

“The effort of the guys, their confidence, their desire to get back—that is what I wanted, but I told them that it’s not enough to want to get ahead of the best teams,” he said.

“What is in our heads right now would be to have a good game against NU, and make sure that we win first,” he added.

With the loss, UP’s chance of getting the Final Four slot gets slimmer, with their future depending on their final outing and the turnout of the remaining games.

If the Maroons pull off a victory against the National University (NU) Bulldogs  and third-ranking Adamson University (AdU) Soaring Falcons beat fourth placers Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws on Saturday,, UP will force a Final Four playoff against the Tamaraws.


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