University of the Philippines clinched a spot in the UAAP Season 84 Final Four after clipping De La Salle University, 72-69, Saturday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The Fighting Maroons bounced back from their upset loss to Adamson last Thursday to improve to 9-2 at second. The victory also assured the 12-0 Ateneo de Manila University a twice-to-beat incentive in the semis if it will not sweep the eliminations.
"This game namin compared sa last, very different. 'Yung ball movement from the start we were sharing the ball, hitting the open man. Yung mga things na we're really working on, nakita namin kanina," said UP head coach Goldwin Monteverde.
Trailing by 11, Green Archers Kurt Lojera, Mark Nonoy, and Schonny Winston connived for three straight buckets to pull their team within five with 5:08 left on the clock, 59-64.
But UP's Ricci Rivero, Carl Tamayo, and Malick Diouf responded with seven unanswered points to re-establish a 12-point lead with 1:52 to go, 71-59.
DLSU though had one last run in it as Winston and Michael Phillips joined hands for 10 straight points, with the former scoring the first eight, to pull within just two with 10.5 ticks remaining, 69-71.
Rivero was sent to the line with in the ensuing play wherein he split his charities, giving the Green Archers one more chance to tie the game with 8.6 seconds left.
However, Nonoy's three-pointer from the left corner off an inbound missed badly as the loose ball was not recovered until time expired.
Tamayo registered 23 points and 11 rebounds while Malick Diouf had himself a day at the boards with 18 to go with 15 points.
Rivero added 11 points while Zavier Lucero chipped in nine points and eight rebounds.
Justine Baltazar led DLSU with 16 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, two blocks, and two steals while Winston also got 16 points.
The Green Archers slid to 7-4 -- good for third, but still, have a chance for a twice-to-beat advantage come Final Four.
UP will aim for the semis edge on Tuesday with a win over University of the East at 12:30 pm. DLSU will target to bounce back at 10 am against Far Eastern University.
UP 72 -- Tamayo 23, Diouf 15, Rivero 11, Lucero 9, Fortea 8, Cagulangan 4, Spencer 2, Abadiano 0, Cansino 0, Alarcon 0, Lina 0.
DLSU 69 -- Baltazar 16, Winston 16, Lojera 13, M. Phillips 8, Nelle 7, Nonoy 7, B. Phillips 2, Manuel 0, Escandor 0, Nwankwo 0, Cuajao 0.
Quarterscores: 18-17, 42-31, 56-49, 72-69. (Dennis Lachica, Sportsmanila Photojournalist)