The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons stunned their Season 81 semifinals rival Adamson University (AdU) Soaring Falcons in a heart-stopping overtime, 83-82, today at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
Despite their victory, UP’s fate seemed less than promising in the opening half as they suffered from lackluster defense and empty possessions.
Even though UP’s Kobe Paras, David Murrell, Jun Manzo and Bright Akhuetie went on a 18-20 run in the first quarter, the Fighting Maroons still experienced multiple turnovers.
AdU maximized UP’s errors in the second frame, where they limited the Diliman-based squad to only five markers. Powering the Soaring Falcons’ offense, Val Chauca added 14 points to his name and earned Adamson a 25-41 standing just before halftime.
UP answered back, outscoring the San Marcelino-originated lineup in the third frame.
Mid-range threes and inside shots a la Kobe Paras, Juan Gomez de Liaño, James Spencer and Noah Webb boosted the Fighting Maroons, 52-50.
Acknowledging the UP Faithful as its sixth member, the Fighting Maroons’ emotions ran high during the fourth canto. Captivating Iskos and Iskas, Spencer immediately opened up the frame with a perimeter goal.
In response, AdU immediately slowed down the Maroons’ offense by boxing them out.
Javi Gomez de Liaño circumvented their defense and scored from the outside, forcing AdU into overtime, 73-73.
Southeast Asian Games 2017 Gold Medalist Paras and UP Men’s Basketball Team co-captain Manzo helped Season 81 MVP Akhuetie close out the end of regulation.
The Nigerian center made two free throws to put up 83-82.
Paras led UP with 20 markers, whilst Val Chauca dominated AdU’s offense with 21 points.
Acknowledging the strengths of their opponent, Fighting Maroons Coach Bo Perasol shared that his players have to prepare well if they want to take home another victory.
“We all know that all the teams are very strong this season, so we need to take it away from them,” said the State U lead mentor.
The outspoken leader also commended Paras for his lights-out shooting.
“It’s a great catalyst that we have in Kobe here. It’s not just only about his offense, but his presence inside [the court]. It gives inspiration to his teammates,” Perasol expressed.
The Gilas Pilipinas 2023 cager was elated upon hearing the support of Perasol and the UP Community.
“This is my fourth college, so I’m thankful for Coach Bo and the whole UP community for giving me a third chance in not just basketball, but in life,” Paras shared.
The UP Fighting Maroons is looking to muzzle the National University (NU) Bulldogs in their game on September 18, 10:30 AM at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
QUARTER SCORING: 18-20, 25-41, 52-50, 73-73, 83-82 (OT).