UP Fighting Maroons def. DLSU Green Archers 67-61
Bright Akhuetie, UP (19 points, 19 rebounds, 3 assists)
After a dominating showing in a losing effort against Adamson in their last game, Akhuetie was once again an absolute workhorse for the Fighting Maroons especially in the rebounding department, tallying in an impressive double-double stat line that proved pivotal for UP.
Juan Gomez de Liano, UP (17 points, 3 rebounds, 6 assists)
Let’s just say that every time the Maroons play, Juan GDL should be a shoo-in notable player. That is how impressive he has been for UP this season. Again providing the offensive spark for the Maroons when they needed it, JGDL was balls out crazy full of highlights. The step back jumpers, the pick and roll artistry, the daredevil drives, and the tomahawk dunk. Just nasty.
Paul Desiderio, UP (12 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists)
Thru four games, Paul Desiderio has been somewhat the missing piece for UP’s point of attack. In this game, however, Desiderio found his shooting groove, converting three three-pointers. And more than to his stepped up offensive game, he was active defensively for the Maroons which was a big plus especially on the crucial stretches of the game.
Justine Baltazar, DLSU (13 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks)
Matched up against one of the best imports in UAAP in the form of Akhuetie, Justine Baltazar was unfazed and more than held his own against the Maroons’ bulky center. Using his finesse footwork and soft finishes under the rim, the former NU Bullpup was vital during De La Salle’s momentous comeback in the fourth quarter especially in the defensive end, racking up three rejections for the Archers.
- Take it easy, UP fans. This is not another meltdown. You can now all breathe a collective sigh of relief. After dropping three straight games, with the most recent being a heartbreaking loss after surrenderindouble-digitigit lead in the final canto, the UP Fighting Maroons avoided another let down in the fourth quarter thanks to their solid defensive effort leading to transition baskets and of course, Juan GDL’s late game heroics.
- The main proponents for UP’s successful points of attack were solid defense, controlling the rebounds and fast break points. In the start of the fourth quarter alone, the Maroons was able to open up the biggest lead of the game at 61-47 thanks to a number of attacks. First, there was JGDL breaking down the full court press then dishing off a drop pass to Akhuetie for a slammer. Then, off of JGDL’s steal, it was another beautiful connection by him and Bright which led to an easy lay in.
- The Fighting Maroons thrived when they played on a frantic pace rather than going to their half court sets. Led by Akhuetie, UP was able to grab 40 rebounds compared to the Archers’ 34 which led to early transition attacks and taking advantage of La Salle’s poor transition defense in several instances. The Maroons were able to convert 16 fast break points majority coming from touchdown outlet passes off of defensive rebounds.
- La Salle was able to mount a comeback, however, once the game slowed down midway through the fourth quarter. Forcing UP to multiple one and done possessions, the Archers went to work inside the paint courtesy of Baltazar and Santi Santillan together with Aljun Melecio’s signature jumpers. Too bad, JGDL was quick to spoil La Salle’s efforts as his four straight points in the final minute of the game proved as the dagger against the Archers..
- In what seemed to be a must win game for UP, the Diliman-based team should now learn how to protect big leads down the stretch as this has been seemingly their kryptonite for the season. As for the Green Archers, this was a great showing despite the loss as they produced a balanced offensive output while still missing the services of team captain Kib Montalbo.