UP Fighting Maroons def. FEU Tamaraws 95-82
Paul Desiderio, UP (31 points, 12/19 FG, 7/9 3FG, 2 rebounds, 4 assists)
MR. ATIN ‘TO IS BACK. Desiderio took advantage of the open looks at the corner being given by the FEU defense, cashing in on six three point shots in this quarter alone (UAAP record, tied with Kiefer Ravena for most 3FG made in a quarter). He was much more efficient this game, after a string of games where his shots did not seem to drop. He was back to his prime scorer self, and it couldn’t come at a better time.
Bright Akhuetie, UP (20 points, 8/12 FG, 11 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 blocks)
Bright had his way in the paint due to the absence of Prince Orizu (injury) and Arvin Tolentino suspension). Richard Escoto and Barkley Ebona are both good players, but are simply too small and thin to cover the Nigerian student-athlete. Akhuetie also took advantage of his height and double teams to become a passer, kicking the ball out to the open man for the easy bucket.
Juan Gomez de Liano, UP (19 points, 11 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 steals)
After registering a triple double against UE last weekend, Juan GDL once again filled the stat sheet, one assist shy from a second triple double. Oh, and he did this COMING OFF THE BENCH. He simply did everything for the Fighting Maroons, answering every Tamaraw run by being involved in every aspect of the offense.
Brandrey Bienes, FEU (14 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist)
The suspension of Arvin Tolentino has been a blessing in disguise for the Tamaraws as Bienes stepped up in Tolentino’s absence. The forward has maximized the playing time given to him by opening FEU’s scoring during mini runs, as well as doing the little things such as rebounding and setting screens for the guards.
- Ball movement won it for the Fighting Maroons. UP exploited the holes on the FEU defense and passed the ball around for the available shot. This opened up Paul Desiderio in the left corner The league leaders in assists tallied a season-high 26 dimes and ultimately chalked up the W.
- This was the UP Fighting Maroons that fans expected coming out of the gate. This season was supposed to be a winning campaign for Coach Bo Perasol and the UP Fighting Maroons, but after dispatching of the UE Red Warriors in their opening game, the ride was nothing but smooth. The potential the team had just remained as potential, and fans cannot wait for the next season to come. After a rejuvenating win against UE, the Fighting Maroons knew they had to go for the kill against FEU, who was missing two key pieces. UP displayed their true firepower in this match, and put the league on blast.
- Paul Desiderio may be a prolific scorer, but this is Juan’s team now. Juan GDL came off the bench to add some much-needed firepower to their second unit. The former Rookie of the Year contributed more than points to UP. He was the stabilizing force when Desiderio was on the bench or not shooting. He provided support when FEU was threatening to pull close. Not only is he athletic, his basketball IQ is also elite level. His passing is underrated compared to his finishing ability. He is a sure-fire candidate to be part of the Mythical selection, as well as providing a strong case for the Most Valuable Player.
- Turnovers killed whatever chance FEU might have had. UP may have led the whole game, but there were times that the Tamaraws cut the lead too close for UP’s comfort. The Tamaraws trimmed the lead to single digits multiple times but would be too clumsy with the ball resulting into a Maroon fastbreak. This was the story of the game for the FEU Tamaraws.
- The win by UP makes the Final Four race more interesting. DLSU sits at solo third place but is only a half game ahead of FEU and UP. UST is only one game behind. At this stage, these four teams still have a chance of not making the bus, and the elimination round will most likely end in playoff games to determine the fourth seed.