University of the Philippines got its sweet revenge over defending champion Ateneo de Manila University in another thriller.
The Fighting Maroons needed to shrug off a feisty comeback by the Blue Eagles in the fourth to win, 65-60, in the second round of the UAAP Season 86 Men’s Basketball Tournament at the jampacked SMART Araneta Coliseum with 17,406 fans in attendance on Sunday.
The Fighting Maroons waited 10 months before having another crack at the Blue Eagles but lost in the first round just last week in overtime, 99-89.
But UP was not to be denied this time as it improved to solo first with an 8-1 record with five more games to go in the eliminations.
“Siguro it took a while din na makuha namin yung rhythm offensively,” said Fighting Maroons head coach Goldwin Monteverde. “We were a little bit in a hurry nung first quarter lalo na pero maganda dito, yung defense namin it held up Ateneo and nung huli, we were more patient offensively.”
The Fighting Maroons opened up a 10-point lead at the end of the third quarter as Terrence Fortea, who just made his UP season debut, and Abadiano connived, turning a 32-20 tight lead to a 49-39 advantage.
But the resilient Eagles did not go down without a fight.
Down 42-54 in the fourth period, Blue Eagles Jared Brown, Joseph Obasa, and Kai Ballungay teamed up for 12 straight points and knot the game at 54 with 5:55 left.
However, Harold Alarcon and Abadiano answered back with a triple and a jump shot, respectively, to give UP the lead for good with 4:51 remaining, 59-54.
Harold Alarcon extended the lead to six with 45.3 seconds to go but in the next play, Mason Amos drained a three-pointer with 42.9 seconds left to pull the Blue Eagles within three, 60-63.
UP then milked the clock in the next possession before Alarcon attempted a wild floater that missed, giving Ateneo a chance to tie.
With no timeouts to burn, Ateneo had no other choice but to stick to a five without Mason Amos and Kai Ballungay.
Obasa attempted and missed a layup with his team trailing by three with less than six seconds left.
“Yung effort namin as a team nandiyan. Alam naman namin na natalo kami sa Ateneo nung first round at masakit sa amin yun,” said third-year guard Abadiano, who played his best game so far this season with 22 points, three rebounds, two assists, and a steal.
Francis Lopez and Alarcon produced 10 points apiece while reigning MVP Malick Diouf also got 10 points while also grabbing 17 rebounds and recording three steals and two blocks.
Terrence Fortea made his season debut for the Fighting Maroons after a right knee injury and contributed seven points.
UP, however, missed the services of reliable guards CJ Cansino (flu) and JD Cagulangan (hamstring).
On the other hand, Ateneo dropped to a 4-5 record, tying for the fourth and fifth positions with Adamson University. This marked the team’s highest number of defeats in an elimination round during the Tab Baldwin era, surpassing their previous record of four losses in Season 79.
Brown led the Blue Eagles in scoring with 18 points built on four triples while Obasa added 11 points to go with 16 rebounds and four blocks.
Amos had 10 points while Ballungay was limited to just seven points on 3-of-9 shooting from the field.
But the biggest no-show for them was Chris Koon, who went scoreless in the game and going 0-of-10 from the field.
UP will go for three straight wins on Sunday when it tangles with De La Salle University, while Ateneo aims to rebound a day before against National University. Both games will be played at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
UP 65 – Abadiano 22, Alarcon 10, Diouf 10, Lopez 10, Fortea 7, Felicilda 4, Torculas 2, Alter 0, Belmonte 0, Torres 0.
Ateneo 60 – Brown 18, Obasa 11, Amos 10, Quitevis 8, Ballungay 7, Credo 3, Espinosa 2, Chiu 1, Koon 0, Gomez 0, Tuano 0, Nieto 0, Lazaro 0, Celis 0.
Quarterscores: 11-11, 32-30, 49-39, 65-60
Photo and article from UAAP Media