By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
FINISHED their first-round campaign in Season 80 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) with three straight losses, the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons got back on the winning track yesterday, beating the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers, 71-69, at the start of the second round of elimination play.
Saw themselves fall out of the top-four picture because of the skid, UP set its bounce-back bid to a good start by doing a repeat on UST, which remained winless following the loss.
The contest got off to a very competitive start with both teams angling to get the much-needed win.
UP raced to a 15-6 lead in the first five minutes of the opening frame.
The Tigers though would make a ferocious rally thereafter, going on an 11-0 blast to finish the quarter on top, 17-15.
Towed by Jun Manzo, Paul Desiderio and Javi Gomez de Liano, the Maroons steadied and hummed anew in the second period.
They initially tied the knot at 20-all before building a 34-26 separation with three minutes to go in the first half.
UP eventually settled for an eight-point lead by the halftime break, 40-32.
In the third period, it was UST’s turn to jump-start things with Jordan Sta. Ana leading the charge.
The Tigers trimmed the Maroons’ lead to four points, 47-43, in the opening fold of the frame.
They continued to claw their way back but the Maroons would hold firm and take a 61-55 advantage heading into the final canto.
The fourth period had the two teams grinding it out to start the proceedings.
UP held a 66-57 lead at the five-minute mark before UST charged back with a 12-4 blast to come within one point, 70-69, with 11 ticks to go in the game.
A split charity by Manzo put the Maroons up by two points, 71-69.
The Tigers had two chances to win the game but the three-point attempt of guard Marvin Lee rattled off the rim while his second heave was foiled by the UP defense.
Jan Jaboneta led UP with 12 points with Manzo and Desiderio adding 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Big man Ibrahim Ouattara of Mali had nine points and 11 rebounds for the Maroons, who improved to 4-4.
Lee top-scored for UST with 17 points while Jorem Soriano and Sta. Ana had 14 and 13, respectively.
Cameroonian Steve Akoumo wound up with 20 rebounds and seven points for the Tigers (0-8).
“As expected it was another tough game against UST. This was big for us because we really wanted to win this after three straight losses not only to break the streak but to perk up the players again,” said UP coach Bo Perasol after the win.