Photo by Maegan Gaspar
Text by Denver Del Rosario
The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons scored an upset against the defending champions De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Archers, 98-87, today in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
From a slow start in the first canto, the Maroons never looked back as they held the driver’s seat in the succeeding quarters.
It was a well-fought match for UP with everyone contributing from offense to defense.
The Archers put up a scare from the get-go as center Ben Mbala exploded with four treys. A three-point basket from Andrei Caracut gave DLSU its biggest lead of the match, 23-9.
Captain Paul Desiderio led the charge for the Diliman squad in the second quarter, responding with a shot from downtown and getting the free throw at 4:58 to tie the game, 35-all.
The second canto also saw the debut of State U’s Rob Ricafort who closed the quarter with a basket, giving his team the lead, 47-43.
The third quarter became intensely contested as both teams refused to let the other pull away.
Desiderio responded to Mbala’s first quarter blast by registering four treys in the third quarter, which ended with a very slim lead in favor of the Maroons, 66-65.
The Archers struggled in the final canto as bench players created damage for the Maroons.
Janjan Jaboneta and Jarrell Lim contributed three shots from downtown to widen their lead, 79-71.
The Taft squad eventually lost steam as the Maroons distanced themselves to seal the game, 98-87.
Desiderio spearheaded the onslaught for Diliman with a career-high 30 points, registering 60% from the three-point area. Manzo added 17, while the Gomez de Leaño brothers contributed 10 each.
Mbala led his team with 34 big points, 21 of which came from the first half. Caracut and Ricci Rivero added 15 and 12 points respectively.
UP head coach Bo Perasol praised his team for playing with a winning attitude despite being up against the defending champions.
“Before the game, somebody forwarded me (a tweet) from Jun Manzo, saying, walang imposible sa naniniwala,” he said. “Parang nahiya ako sa sarili ko, that my players believed we can win this game and compete with a powerhouse La Salle team.”
UP now holds a 3-1 win-loss card, tying with DLSU in second place.
The Maroons will next face the Far Eastern University Tamaraws on Oct. 1 at the Araneta Coliseum.