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MAROONS ON FIRE — UP buries UST by 31 points

UP opened its biggest separation, 103-66, in the last 4:23 of the game after Chicco Briones swished in a triple on its way to recording the team’s best start in the Final Four era.

Forward Francis Lopez soars for a slam as UP routs UST, 110-79, for its fifth win in as many games in the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball tournament. | Photograph COURTESY OF UAAP

Games today:

(Mall of Asia Arena)

9 a.m. — NU vs La Salle (w)

11 a.m. — Adamson vs UE (w)

2 p.m. — NU vs La Salle (m)

4 p.m. — Adamson vs UE (m)

 

Still unbeaten.

University of the Philippines did not hold back in burying the hapless University of Santo Tomas deeper down the cellar while notching its fifth straight win in a 110–79 blowout yesterday in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 86 men’s basketball tournament at Mall of Asia Arena.

The Fighting Maroons blew the game open with a scorching scoring display in the second and third quarters to build an insurmountable 35-point advantage heading into the payoff period.

“After the first half, we talked about our defense because we felt it was not that good in the first. I think we picked up, especially in the third,” UP coach Goldwin Monteverde said as his squad bounced back from a near collapse the last time out in an overtime escape over Far Eastern University.

“I think that defined the second half.”

UP opened its biggest separation, 103-66, in the last 4:23 of the game after Chicco Briones swished in a triple on its way to recording the team’s best start in the Final Four era.

Harold Alarcon exploded for 21 points, leading three other Fighting Maroons in double-figure scoring. JD Cagulangan had 16 points and nine assists, Chicco Briones got 14 while Francis Lopez had 11 for UP, which scored the most points in a game since De La Salle University defeated UST, 112-83, back on 19 April 2022.

UP’s bench mob outscored their UST counterparts, 68-10.

The Tigers absorbed their fifth defeat in as many starts and 18 in a row since last season.

Nic Cabanero had 24 points and eight rebounds while Christian Manaytay posted 23 in a lost cause for UST.

In the first game, rookie Far Eastern University head coach Denok Miranda wasn’t surprised at all with the Tamaraws’ 66-61 overtime win over the inconsistent defending champion Ateneo de Manila University.

The Tamaraws ended a four-game losing skid to deliver Miranda’s first victory as tactician in the school he led to a three-peat from 2003 to 2005 as a premier point guard.

“We knew we’re bound to win based on our previous games. We came up short in those games but went back to the drawing board, checked what we need to improve in ourselves for us to take this win,” Miranda said of his squad’s win following close calls in a meltdown against University of the East and an overtime loss to UP.

LJ Gonzales put FEU in front for good in the extension with back-to-back baskets capped by a stepback jumper for a 63-59 lead with 35.2 seconds left.

Gonzales led the Tamaraws with 21 points and seven rebounds while Xyrus Torres posted 13 points. Pat Sleat and James Tempra added nine and eight, respectively, for FEU, which ended an eight-game head-to-head losing skid to Ateneo since 2018.

“We’re happy we got this win and we learned a lot of lessons from our past games. We brought those things in this game and also, I want to dedicate this win to my mom because it’s her birthday today,” Gonzales said.

The Tamaraws looked poised to bag an easy win after leading by 15 following Aeron Bagunu’s basket for a 52-37 lead with 8:33 left in regulation.

But the Blue Eagles refused to surrender without a fight as they ignited an 18-3 capped by Chris Koon’s pair of free throws for a 57-57 tie with 31.4 seconds remaining in the fourth.

Gonzales missed a potential game-winner while Ian Espinosa also bricked Ateneo’s last shot at the buzzer.

Jared Brown finished with 18 points, Kai Ballungay had 12 while Espinosa and Koon scored eight points each as the Blue Eagles suffered their third loss in five starts.

 

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