The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons secured the solo second spot as they defeated the Adamson (AdU) Soaring Falcons in a close battle, 81-77, in the UAAP Season 82 Basketball Competition, today at Ynares Center Antipolo.

Kobe Paras and Jun Manzo led the team’s scoring, delivering 21 and 17 points respectively, including their own crucial three-point shots in the last quarter. Juan Gomez de Liaño’s 15-point breakout performance also helped the Fighting Maroons snatch their seventh win.

The State U started with a sluggish defense and poor shooting that was maximized by Adamson’s Val Chauca, which resulted to an 11-19 lead, until Paras ignited UP’s 18-9 run with series of perimeter shots and a highlight dunk to snatch the lead, 29-28. The first half ended in a close note with AdU on top, 36-37.

The Diliman-based squad maintained their intensity in the second half with crucial baskets from Manzo, Paras, Bright Akhuetie and Ricci Rivero but failed to contain the opponent’s shooting, ending the third frame trailing at 57-66.

In the fourth quarter, the Fighting Maroons displayed teamwork as they exploded with a 15-7 run, including Manzo’s beyond the arc shot to cut the lead to one, 72-73. Meanwhile, they continued to penetrate the Soaring Falcons’ defense while playing better defense.

After a three-point answer by AdU, UP left them scoreless in the last three minutes of the match, limiting their quarter score to 11 points, and rallied nine more points to close the game, 81-77.

Head Coach Bo Perasol explained that maximizing the Maroons’ potential will solve the team’s inconsistency problem and will bring them an advantage in their last games.

“We started really bad but we picked up ourselves. We reminded [ourselves] that this is an important game and the players responded to that,” he said.

The Fighting Maroons will try to solidify their final four hopes against the struggling National University (NU) Bulldogs on October 23 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

QUARTER SCORES: 11-19, 36-37, 57-66, 81-77

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