The University of The Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons advance to a 4-1 slate as they snatched the game from the University of the East (UE) Red Warriors, 62-56, in the UAAP Season 82 Men’s Basketball Tournament, today at Ynares Center Antipolo.

Bright Akhuetie chipped in 16 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists, leading the Maroons in victory. Behind him are Javi Gomez de Liaño and Kobe Paras, who contributed 15 and 12 points, respectively.

The game opened with a back-to-back perimeter shots from the older Gomez de Liaño and Paras, while both the GDL brothers delivered a few threes to extend the lead, 15-8.

The Fighting Maroons continued to penetrate the opponents’ defense until the end of the first frame while the Red Warriors struggled shooting from beyond the arc.

Led by Paras and Akhuetie, the Diliman-based squad played scrappy defense that forced UE to commit fouls and turnovers while they convert it to fast break points. State U dominated the Red Warriors in the first half, 39-27.

UE played aggressive offense in the third quarter to challenge UP’s weaker defense. UE shot treys as they establish a 10-3 run, only to be stopped by Ricci Rivero’s fast break play, 42-37.

Meanwhile, prized players Rivero and Paras tried to counter UE’s run with their isolated plays including a missed monster dunk and failed 3-point attempts.

With their opponents still trailing by four, 46-42, the Maroons went back and forth to challenge UE’s defense. However, the Red Warriors crafted a late run to cut the State U’s lead to one, 53-52.

Paras then cheered the UP crowd, as the team led by big man Akhuetie regained their momentum. Jayvee Tungcab delivered a crucial three to extend the lead to four, 60-54, with two minutes left in the ball game.

The Recto-based squad crumbled as they gave two more charity shots to UP, who survived another scare and sealed their fourth win, 62-56.

With another game scare, Head Coach Bo Perasol explained their dilemma of closing out games and personal-driven goals.

“Most of my players are all dominant guys,” he shared. “We have our own plans, our own goals, but in the end… ‘pag lamang, lumalabas yung personal and individual tendencies to score.” 

The Fighting Maroons will try to extend their winning streak as they face the De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Archers on September 25, 4 p.m., at the Mall of Asia Arena.

QUARTER SCORES: 23-15, 39-27, 46-42, 62-56

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