Despite a late rally in the final moments of the fourth quarter, the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons escape the National University (NU) Bulldogs with a 89-88 finish favoring the Isko cagers, today, in the UAAP Season 81 Men’s Basketball Tournament, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The opening quarter saw all of UP’s starting unit contribute 15 points. The Bulldogs tried their best to disrupt the flow of State U, but key players like Issa Gaye and Dave Ildefonso committed several fouls that did not bode well for their team.

Hounding the Bulldogs and finding holes in their defense, UP garnered a 26-20 lead in the first quarter.

Come second quarter, UP’s defense grew too aggressive as they committed careless fouls just four minutes in the quarter. The Maroons were able to extend their lead by as much as 18 points, but the Bulldogs countered with a 20-7 run.

Technical and personal, 13 fouls came from UP and 12 from NU during the first and second set of this play, resulting in a 47-40 standing with the Maroons in the forefront, at the half.

After halftime, the third frame saw NU’s JV Gallego put up nine points in the quarter alone, but the Fighting Maroons managed to protect their lead and went on an 18-8 run of their own in the first six minutes.

Emotions ran high in the final minute of the third as Juan Gomez De Liano was given an unsportsmanlike conduct, on top of previous warnings and technical fouls given to UP.

Nonetheless, the UP Fighting Maroons wrapped up with a 70-62 scoring that put them ahead.

Both teams moved sloppily in the fourth canto as Javi Gomez De Liano and Issa Gaye were charged with a double foul amongst many other infractions.

NU almost made up for this mistake and reigned successful, but a 26 point addition to their existing 62 points was not enough to cause a lead change through the whole game.

However, Dave and Shaun Ildefonso gave the UP community a scare as they closed in on UP, 89-88, after a Dave three and a Shaun layup.

In the end, after an empty possession from UP, Gallego passed what would’ve been the game-winner that was secured by Juan Gomez De Liano to capture the 89-88 win for State U.

Bright Akhuetie put up 21 points for his UAAP career-high together with Javi Gomez De Liano with a career-high 19 points.

Dave Ildefonso paced NU with 20 points.

Even if the matchup saw, 52 inside points and 48 rebound points from UP, Head Coach Bo Perasol iterated that he was not happy with the outcome of the game due to the team’s poor free throw shooting.

“If we could just have shot at least 50% of our free throws, that could have helped us also. But we missed 19 out of 30.” stated the main mentor of the Diliman-based squad.

Taking this as a lesson, the UP Fighting Maroons are ready to face the competition with new eyes.

Going head-to-head against the UST Growling Tigers on October 10, 2018 in the Mall of Asia Arena, the UP Fighting Maroons will be vying to prop up their 3-3 ranking in the UAAP Season 81 Men’s Basketball Competition. TNP

Photo by Kezhia Maglasang


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