The end of one team’s winning streak marks the start for another.

The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons end their first round with a loss against the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers, 72-86, today, October 10, in the UAAP Season 81 men’s basketball tournament held at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

It was a slow start for the Fighting Maroons as UST held them scoreless, 0-8. After a series of empty possessions, Bright Akhuetie finally put UP on the board, 2-8.

The Growling Tigers’ pressing defense alongside efficient midrange and outside shooting extended their lead to 15 points, 16-31, to end the first frame.

Early in the second quarter, Juan Gomez De Liano committed his second foul that sent Tobi Agustin to the line where he doubled UST’s lead, 16-32. This would dictate the outcome of the second as sloppy defense from the Maroons allowed the Espana cagers to frequent the charity stripe that widened the gap to 24 points at the end of the quarter, 29-53.

By halftime, UST shot 15/20 free throws compared to UP’s 1/2.

Skipper Paul Desiderio made a 6-0 run of his own to trim UST’s lead, 35-57, but the Fighting Maroons committed two straight fouls just seconds within the second half. Juan Gomez De Liano also headed to the bench early as he was already slapped with four fouls.

The Growling Tigers started to roll over State U in the third frame as CJ Cansino connected from deep which ballooned UST’s lead to 30 points, 41-71, and maintained this to end, 46-76, in favor of the Espana-based squad.

The Fighting Maroons sparked two mini runs in the fourth quarter with Diego Dario leading UP’s 9-0 run that cut UST’s lead down to 20, 59-79, and another 8-0 run led by Juan Gomez De Liano that put State U within 14 points, 69-83. However, Marvin Lee was quick on his feet as he hit the dagger three, 69-86.

Javi Gomez De Liano was fouled in the final moments of the game and completed the and-1 play, 72-86. Dario was fouled, but missed both free throws, score ended, 72-86.

The Fighting Maroons never led the game and this loss brings them to a 3-4 standing tied with UST. The Growling Tigers held Juan Gomez De Liano to his lowest scoring output in the season so far with nine points.

Bright Akhuetie kept the Fighting Maroons in the game as he packaged the double-double with 18 points and 11 boards.

Super rookie CJ Cansino had a double-double of his own and led UST with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Discussing what the team needs to improve on, Head coach Bo Perasol said, “Napakarami, I just feel that we don’t have that single mindset, parang single mindedness, ‘yung buo kayo na alam mong we can go through this together.”

“We all know that we have what it takes and alam ko rin na kaya namin lumaban, probably it’s just part of learning things together, but we have to hurry up.”, he added.

The Fighting Maroons face a tough test as they begin their second round campaign against defending champions Ateneo De Manila University (ADMU) Blue Eagles this Sunday, October 14, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena. TNP

Photo by Cleverlyn Mayuga

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