UP Fighting Maroons def. UST Growling Tigers, 83-69
Bright Akhuetie, UP (25 points, 18 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, 11/15 FG)
The big man struggled early on as he was riddled with foul trouble and committed multiple turnovers in the first quarter but bounced back splendidly to lead the Fighting Maroons for their seventh win in 13 games. Akhuetie also had a game-high five offensive rebounds which gave UP extra possessions and prevented UST to score in fast break situations.
Paul Desiderio, UP (19 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 8/16 FG)
An outstanding shooting performance from the graduating senior as he provided the additional firepower for the Fighting Maroons. Desiderio scored from all over the court as he knocked-down three conversions from the three-point territory, scored from the midrange, and made a couple of lay-ups inside. The scoring exploits will always be there but it was nice to see the Cebuano putting an effort to grab the boards and create plays for his teammates.
Juan Gomez De Liaño, UP (11 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 4/12 FG)
The reigning UAAP Rookie of the Year failed to record a triple-double but he did notch a 5-5-5 piece in a crucial victory to boost the Fighting Maroons’ Final Four hopes. Gomez De Liaño has been superb in his bench role so far and it would be interesting to see if this role carries on to next season.
Marvin Lee, UST (26 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 7/15 3FG)
Another scintillating game from the starting point guard of the Growling Tigers but his efforts were not enough to prevent them from absorbing their eighth loss in 13 games. Lee was fearless as he launched contested three-point shots throughout the game as UP found it difficult to deny him the basketball.
- A strong start for the Growling Tigers saw them go up 22-19 at the end of the first quarter and even extended their lead to double digits, 36-26, at the 5:57 mark of the second quarter after Subido’s free throws. UST’s offense was clicking as 10 different players scored during that span while it’s defense limited Akhuetie to only four points.
- It was at the 5:57 mark of the second canto where the momentum shifted to the Fighting Maroons. CJ Cansino went down with an injury and the Growling Tigers struggled to cope without the rookie. They went on a dry spell in the offensive end as they only scored two more points to end the first half. UP took advantage of this and unleashed a 16-2 run to end the first half with a 42-38 lead.
- The Growling Tigers did not score again until the 5:56 mark of the third period after Lee drained a three-pointer to cut the deficit to seven, 48-41, but it was too late as the Fighting Maroons continued their offensive onslaught en route to a resounding win.
- UP dominated the paint as they recorded 48 inside points while limiting UST to only 14. The Growling Tigers had a difficult time scoring near the basket with Akhuetie, Jerson Prado, and Gelo Vito patrolling the paint.
- Just like in their game against the DLSU Green Archers last week, only two players scored in double digits for the Growling Tigers. With Cansino sidelined after succumbing to a knee injury, UST head coach Aldin Ayo needed someone step up and help Lee in the scoring department. Renzo Subido answered the call with 22 points off the bench but nobody else took their game to another level. After Lee and Subido, the next two leading scorers for UST are Ira Batallier and Germy Mahinay with seven and four points respectively.
- Side note: The last time UP won seven games in one UAAP season was back in 2004 wherein they recorded seven victories and seven loses as they narrowingly missed out on a semi-final appearance. It has been an upward trajectory for the Fighting Maroons ever since they appointed Bo Perasol as their head coach two years ago. They won five games in his first campaign, six in his second year, and now, seven, with an opportunity to make it eight on Wednesday, November 14, against the third-seeded Green Archers.