The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons dismantle the Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws, leading from start to finish en route to a dominant 95-82 victory, today, October 24, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, making it to a 5-5 standing.

The Fighting Maroons came roaring out of the gates, shooting lights out from the field, beginning the game on an 8-2 run led by two three-pointers from captain Paul Desiderio.

Desiderio rode his hot streak the entire quarter, shooting 6-of-6 from deep, scoring 18 points in the first quarter, eclipsing his season-high of 16 tallied in each of his two previous games.

State U was carried by its torrid shooting in the first, draining seven threes in the period, leading FEU by seven to end , 37-30.

After a high scoring first quarter, the pace slowed down in the second quarter as UP and FEU traded buckets midway into the frame, with FEU trailing by four, 43-39 in the middle of the period.

A Jun Manzo three sparked an 11-0 run for the Fighting Maroons to give them their largest lead of the game at 15 points, 54-39. FEU answered with two buckets of its own, making it an 11-point game at the intermission, 54-43.

State U did not start the second half well, with two turnovers in their first three possessions to start the third.

UP had to hold its collective breath as Desiderio went down on the 6:17 mark of the third after appearing to have tweaked his ankle. The Tamaraws subsequently made a comeback bid, drawing to as close as six points, 62-56, on a trey from Hubert Cani.

The Fighting Maroons breathed a sigh of relief as Desiderio returned to the floor in less than two minutes.

As the Skipper returned, the Fighting Maroons started pulling away from FEU, going on a 16-9 run to close the period, 78-65.

FEU could only come to as close as nine points in the fourth. They couldn’t find an answer for any of UP’s Big Three – Desiderio, Bright Akhuetie, and Juan Gomez de Liano – who combined for 15 of the team’s final 17 points to seal the victory, 95-82.

The captain, Desiderio, notched his career-high in points with 31, finishing at 7-of-9 from downtown, spurred by his impressive first quarter shooting.

“Last year ko ‘to. Di ko iiwanan si Coach Bo na pangit ‘yung ending namin,” the Captain exclaimed. “Kumbaga, lalaban kami. Doon ako kumukuha ng lakas.”

Coach Bo Perasol had nothing but praise for his graduating captain.

“I have to make sure to commend Paul and his very hot start. It gave us the confidence. It gave us the feeling that we can do it.” Coach Bo said. “This is his best game so far this season.”

Akhuetie continued making his case for MVP, pitching in 20 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 assists. Juan GDL had another great night off the bench, finishing one dime shy from a triple-double, with 19 points, 11 boards, and 9 assists. UP’s Big Three combined for 70 of the team’s 95 points.

Brandey Bienes paced the losing side in scoring, finishing with 14 points.

The Fighting Maroons look to climb over .500 and improve to 6-5 as they seek to avenge their first round loss against the Adamson University (AdU) Soaring Falcons on Sunday, October 28, at the FilOil Flying V Centre, at 4 pm. TNP

Photo by Quin Astilla

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