The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons nabbed their fourth straight victory after a come-from-behind win to escape the De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Archers, 72-71, in the UAAP Season 82 men’s basketball tournament today at MOA Arena.
Despite limited minutes on the floor since the start of the season, Juan Gomez de Liaño came big with 10 points as he shot a trey with seven seconds left in the game to help UP roll past DLSU.
Kobe Paras topped all scorers three games in a row with 21 points, two steals and two blocks while Big Man Bright Akhuetie dropped a double-double performance, 17 points and 14 rebounds, to cap the win for UP.
The Green Archers rallied first to leave the Fighting Maroons trailing by four points in the first quarter, 14-18.
Turnover woes and poor ball handling cost the Maroons as they hand the Taft-based squad the lead in the halftime, 29-36.
An 11-4 run by the Diliman-based squad opened the third quarter but it was easily spoiled by the Green Archers as they crafted their own plays to lead State U, 52-59.
Leading the three quarters, the green-and-white looked to close out on UP, quelling each comeback plays just before the clutch triple by Gomez de Liaño helped the Fighting Maroons score on top by one, 72-71.
As per head coach Bo Perasol, winning this game against DLSU was not an easy feat.
“As long as we understand what is important and that is the win, a lot of them are willing to sacrifice their personal goals,” he explained.
Likewise, Coach Bo was all praises for younger Gomez de Liaño after his late dagger trey to lift UP past DLSU.
“I know he’s struggling with his recovery with the kind of game he’s playing, but you know, Juan is a player, he’s a winner. He’s always a winner. Juan is Juan. He made it in the end,” he said.
The UP Fighting Maroons will end the first round with the highly-anticipated match against the defending champions Ateneo De Manila University (ADMU) Blue Eagles on Sunday, September 29, at SMART Araneta Coliseum.
QUARTER SCORES: 14-18, 29-36, 52-59, 72-71