Photo by Ara Eugenio

Bo-less University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons got a taste of their own medicine in overtime, failing to contain the scoring prowess of the Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws, 79-82, in the second round opener of the UAAP Season 82 Men’s Basketball Tournament today at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena. 

After erupting late in the last frame courtesy of Javi Gomez de Liaño’s crucial layup following Kobe Paras’ mid-range jumper, 69-all, UP could not answer against the 13 total  field goals of Ken Tuffin, Xyrus Torres and Wendell Comboy. 

“When we’re with this kind of situation, we showed that we can come back from the dead. Talo na, humabol pa. Kaya naming humabol pero kinulang lang sa dulo,” said the older Gomez de Liaño, who finished with 11 markers. 

Gomez de Liaño took the helm for the Fighting Maroons in the last 10 seconds, but could not convert the three due to FEU’s pressured defense. 

Despite the frustrating loss, UP interim head coach Ricky Dandan said the team adjusted well in the absence of head coach Bo Perasol, who was slammed with a three-game suspension after the Ateneo-UP game on September 29.

“The biggest adjustment was the mindset, actually. We needed to lift them up and we were able to do that,” said Dandan. 

It was a slow show for the Maroons as the Tamaraws handed them a 5-18 run in the first quarter. But prized recruit Kobe Paras came to the rescue, amassing 13 points with the help of Jaydee Tungcab to end the first half, 27-30. 

Entering the third frame, it became a lopsided battle with the spirited offense of Tamaraw Big Man Pat Tchuente inside the paint with Tuffin’s heated three-point shooting.

FEU seemed to pull away from the match with a 17-point cushion, 43-60, but the Maroon bench sparked a 9-2 run courtesy of Ricci Rivero’s two consecutive layups and Noah Webb from beyond the arc.

Juan Gomez de Liaño, who was quiet in the first half, also dished eight cudgels to inch his squad closer together with Paras and Akhuetie on the charity stripe, both ending at 22 and 14 points, respectively.

“I’m proud of them. That’s their potential that showed. We were down 16 or 17 points, they made a run and made a game out of it. They chose to fight,” added Dandan. 

While the Maroons led in steals and blocks, as well as in fastbreak and turnover points, their overall perimeter scoring was limited to 19 compared to 41 of the Tamaraws. 

Still with no Coach Bo, up next for the Maroons is the streaking University of the East (UE) Warriors on October 12 at the MOA Arena.

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