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Maroons back on winning track

‘We just reminded the players about their habits during our practices, (we told them to work on) defending without fouling.’

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF UAAP Reigning Most Valuable Player Malick Diouf of UP keeps a tight guard of OJ Ojarikre of Adamson.

University of the Philippines assistant coach Christian Luanzon and the rest of the Fighting Maroons coaching staff were all smiles after beating Adamson University on Wednesday.

The crew of head coach Goldwin Monteverde liked how the UP players responded to a setback with a great defensive effort to rediscover their winning ways in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 86 men’s basketball tournament.

UP clamped down on defense to shoot down the Falcons, 77-51, to start the second round with a victory at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The Fighting Maroons retained their share of the top spot and more importantly, returned to the win column three days after seeing their six-game winning streak snapped.

Luanzon felt that UP was able to address their defensive lapses in the 89-99 overtime loss to defending champion Ateneo de Manila University last Sunday with the way the squad shackled Adamson’s offense.

“That was big for us. We really emphasized that in the last two practices, especially after giving up almost 100 points in our last game against Ateneo. I believe that was the highest (points) we allowed,” Luanzon said.

“What was good in this game was we were able to limit Adamson. This is a 62-65-point team average. We were able to hold them to 51.”

The Fighting Maroons deputy added that the Fighting Maroons tried to identify their mistakes during practice especially in playing good and clean defense.

UP only allowed the Falcons 17 free throw attempts where they only made nine. The Fighting Maroons committed 28 fouls against the Blue Eagles, who had 28-of-38 from the charity stripe.

“We just reminded the players about their habits during our practices, (we told them to work on) defending without fouling,” Luanzon explained.

“There were a lot of unnecessary fouls that we gave up in the last game, which cost us maybe the game, and momentum that we needed. Like I said, part of bouncing back is showing it on the court and these players showed it today, especially on defense.”

The Fighting Maroons made the Falcons bleed with an atrocious field goal shooting 19-of-67, a far cry from Ateneo’s 31-of-71 in their end of first round meeting.

“This was a good bounce-back game for us, coming off a loss in the last game. It’s the start of the second round. Coach Gold, one thing he emphasized, even from the start of the season, is just to keep pounding, which means we just have to build on the things that we want to improve as a team on both ends,” Luanzon said.

“We were quite satisfied to get that bounce-back performance on both ends.”

UP, which holds a 7-1 win-loss record tied with National University, will face Ateneo in an elims rematch on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

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