The spirit of Atin ’To revealed itself again as crucial free throws by Jun Manzo drove the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons to a victory over the National University (NU) Bulldogs, 80-77, in the UAAP Season 82 Men’s Basketball Tournament today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Manzo scored UP’s last three points of the game —all from the free throw line —to allow UP to stay ahead of NU.
“Hindi ako kabado kasi pina-practice ko palagi sa training, nag-e-extra ako sa free throws,” said Manzo. “So pagdating sa game na may mga ganyang tira, kinakapalan ko na lang mukha ko,” he added.
Manzo’s clutch shots were just three of his 14. He was one of four Fighting Maroons to score in double figures.
Apart from Manzo, Kobe Paras led the board with 19, while Bright Akhuetie and Juan Gomez de Liaño scored 16 and 11, respectively. Akhuetie and the younger GDL also notched double-doubles, with 12 and 11 rebounds apiece.
The win puts UP at a reassuring record of *8-4, allowing the Maroons to further cement their second seed placement heading into the Final Four.
On the seeding, Coach Bo Perasol says while the eyes will always be on the UAAP Title, the team needs to celebrate victories as they come.
“Even if we’re on the brink of getting to the Final Four, [the team is] not just that excited, because of the expectations they have for themselves,” said Perasol.
“But we have to count our blessings. We can’t go into the highest point of the competition, if we do not go into another level [now].”
The biggest threat to UP’s victory today was a combined 44 points from NU’s Dave Ildefonso and JV Gallego. However, key to UP’s win was their control of the inside, as they outscored the Bulldogs in the post with 44 inside points to NU’s 26.
UP’s improved team play was also crucial, dishing out 21 assists to NU’s 11.
UP hopes to carry this play as they face their next challenge against the De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Archers, this Sunday, October 27, at Ynares Antipolo.
QUARTER SCORES:13-11, 32-25, 56-51, 80-77