UP Fighting Maroons def. DLSU Green Archers, 97-81
Juan Gomez De Liano, UP (27 points, 5 assists, 4/7 3FG all in 1st half)
The sophomore sensation did it again. The lefty wonder once again provided the scoring spark off the bench for the Maroons as his sweet shooting, playmaking ability and overall scoring prowess once again dictated the tempo for UP en route to their blowout victory. Juan GDL is not coming. He has arrived. And he is here to stay.
Javi Gomez De Liano, UP (19 points, 7/12 FG, +29)
Juan GDL may be getting most of the love, but don’t sleep on Javi GDL. The older Gomez De Liano was amazingly effective in the game with his swift shooting and was also a key piece in the defensive end.
Bright Akhuetie, UP (16 points, 20 rebounds)
It was Bright in his Brightest. The league-leading MVP candidate was at his best against La Salle as he once again controlled the paint for the Maroons, collecting a ridiculous 20 boards, which of course was just another day in the office for the prized foreign-student athlete.
Justine Baltazar, De La Salle (22 points, 8 rebounds)
Although Baltazar racked up pretty solid numbers and shot an effective 64% from the field, it came at the expense of a decimating loss. Nevertheless, the lanky center was a bright spot and should continue his stellar play for the Green Archers.
- What a time to be a Fighting Maroon. After 21 FREAKING years, the UP Fighting Maroons finally got over the hump and captured a Final Four berth and it came nothing less from a near perfection of a game. The Maroons easily controlled the pace of the game no thanks to their sweet three-point shooting and a manic defensive scheme that folded De La Salle right from the get go.
- Coming into the game, the Maroons were second in the league in terms of offensive pace as they were keen on playing frenetic high octane basketball. This was done to and their guard and wing players let loose and this is exactly what happened versus La Salle, especially in the first half. After a so-so start for UP, the entry of the Gomez De Liano brothers proved deadly as both came in waxing hot from the three point arc in the first quarter and continued to build momentum and the lead heading into halftime, 52-29.
- Defensively, UP was also on point as they forced La Salle to multiple turnovers in a crucial stretch in the second quarter, often remaining active in the passing lanes and disrupting the frontline of the Archers. This lead to a whopping 27-11 points off turnovers edge for the Maroons. The fact that they also let Aljun Melecio and Andrei Caracut work hard for their shots only added to the nightmare of a game for La Salle.
- The most glaring stat line was the 22-5 advantage of UP in second chance points. This was the result of UP’s gang rebounding and the brilliance of Akhuetie in saving possessions and often getting his extra points off of offensive rebounds. The Maroons were also successful in breaking De La Salle’s full court press which led to easy baskets in transition.
- Overall, this was really a one sided affair right from the start and a history making game for UP. They outplayed and out hustled the Archers throughout the game. As for La Salle, there is still hope as they are still in contention for the last berth in the semis as they await the result of FEU and Adamson on Sunday.