University of the Philippines flexed its firepower in torching University of the East, 84-69, to remain unbeaten in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 86 men’s basketball tournament yesterday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
A strong start and an early 26-point lead gave the Fighting Maroons enough separation to cushion the Red Warriors’ second half fightback and bag their second win in as many games for a share of the lead.
“We saw how UE played against UST and they were able to execute on halfcourt and in transition. Our advantage in this was our team composure,” UP assistant coach Christian Luanzon said.
Reigning Most Valuable Player Malick Diouf delivered a monster double-double of 19 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Fighting Maroons.
Meanwhile, National University also copped its second win in two games after a 71-65 victory over Far Eastern University in the second game.
Kean Baclaan flirted with a triple-double with 15 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists to go with four steals in an all-around performance for the Bulldogs. Mike Malonzo added 10 markers.
The Tamaraws remained winless after two starts despite Cholo Anonuevo and LJ Gonzales firing 16 and 15 points, respectively.
UP came out strong right from the opening tip, racing to a 32-6 lead in the first quarter and never relinquished its hold of the wheel.
The Fighting Maroons wreaked havoc on the open court with a 26-7 advantage in fastbreak points and converted 17 markers from 22 Red Warriors turnovers.
“One thing that we really emphasized coming into this game was the pace of the game and we liked how the players responded from the get-go,” Luanzon said.
“The 32-9 score in the first quarter dictated the game. One thing that coach Gold (Monteverde) would emphasize was the importance of the four quarters because sometimes you can win three quarters and still lose the game.”
CJ Cansino added 17 points in 6-of-10 field goal shooting clip while Francis Lopez scored nine points and three rebounds for UP.
The Red Warriors slid to a 1-1 win-loss slate.
Precious Momowei had a double-double game of 12 points and 22 rebounds for the Red Warriors.
In the third game, Adamson University overcame a furious late rally by University of Santo Tomas for a 79-76 overtime escape.
The Falcons improved to 1-1 while the Tigers absorbed their second loss in two games.