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Dominant Diouf powers Maroons

Malick Diouf turned an ugly start into an ultimate show of force to power University of the Philippines to a 91-70 victory over Adamson University in Season 85 University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball tournament on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Diouf, a 6-foot-11 transferee from Centro Escolar University, was a menace on the defensive end, hounding the Falcons all game long to help the Fighting Maroons chalk their fifth straight win for a commanding 8-1 win-loss record entering the crucial stretch of the eliminations.

In the first game, University of the East snapped a three-game slide when it registered a 30-point massacre of University of Santo Tomas, 81-51.

CJ Payawal was sizzling hot, firing 15 of his 17 points from the rainbow area while posting eight rebounds and five assists for the Red Warriors, who are trying to catch the bus headed for the Final Four with a 4-5 win-loss card.

The Red Warriors ended the first quarter with a manageable 25-14 lead at the end of the first period but stepped on the gas in the second half to jack up their lead to as many as 34 points, 81-74, in the final 41.3 seconds.

UE coach Jack Santiago said they didn’t do anything special other than demoralizing the lowly Growling Tigers early through their airtight defense and superior firepower.

“Our plan was not let UST get involved. Their morale is down but that’s what makes them scary,” Santiago, who used to be an assistant coach for Franz Pumaren during De La Salle University’s championship runs in the previous decade, said.

“That’s why I told the boys to not make the game close. The sooner we break away in the game, the better.”

Still, the day belonged to UP.

Diouf, a 23-year-old slotman from Senegal, shot a career-high 20 points on a sparkling 7-of-11 shooting from the field on top of eight rebounds and five steals.

More than that, he helped Gilas Pilipinas standout Carl Tamayo in engineering a daring 11-0 run in the third quarter that turned a slim 51-49 lead into a 62-49 advantage, something that the Fighting Maroons had protected the rest of the way.

“We worked well as a team and I’m glad that we finished strong,” said Diouf, who scored his 20th point – an uncontested layup — in the final 39.6 seconds that gave the Maroons their biggest lead of the game at 22 points, 91-69.

Also submitting impressive numbers was Tamayo, who knocked down nine of his 18 points in that telling third-quarter rally.

His three-pointer in the last 4:27 of the third period gave UP a 62-49 lead that it used in breaking the morale of the Falcons and completely ripping the game wide open.

“It just so happened that the ball fell into my hands,” Tamayo said.

“Credit to my teammates for finding me at the right place and at the right time.”

UP coach Goldwin Monteverde said their mental toughness in the second half sparked the victory that gave them a wide lead against hot pursuers Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University and National University in the race for the Final Four.

“I think we didn’t start the way we wanted. Sometimes, we would make turnovers that prevent that continuous flow in our game,” said Monteverde, who drew 14 points, five rebounds and two assists from Zavier Lucero, said.

“I think we made better decisions in the third quarter. We have to be consistent and not think about our standings right now.”

Jerome Lastimosa had 19 points for the Soaring Falcons, who absorbed their fifth loss in eight games before getting sent off after hurting his right ankle.


The scores:

First game:

UE (81) — Payawal 17, Villegas 16, Tulabut 8, Sawat 6, Antiporda 6, N. Paranada 6, Remogat 5, K. Paranada 4, Stevens 4, Pagsanjan 3, Beltran 3, Guevarra 3, Abatayo 0, Langit 0.

UST (51) — Faye 23, Pangilinan 8, Cabanero 7, Manalang 4, Manaytay 4, Escobido 2, Lazarte 2, Valentin 1, Calimag 0, Garing 0, Gesalem 0, Duremdes 0.

QUARTERS: 25-14, 45-23, 60-36, 81-51.

Second game:

UP (91) – Diouf 20, Tamayo 18, Lucero 14, Fortea 12, Alarcon 9, Cagulangan 8, Galinato 8, Spencer 1, Calimag 1, Gonzales 0, Abadiano 0, Ramos 0.

ADAMSON (70) – Lastimosa 19, Manzano 10, Sabandal 9, Douanga 8, V. Magbuhos 8, Yerro 7, Hanapi 5, Colonia 3, Barcelona 1, Flowers 0, Jaymalin 0, Torres 0, Barasi 0, Fuentebella 0, W. Magbuhos 0.

QUARTERS: 28-25, 50-45, 69-57, 91-70.

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