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Defiant Maroons remain in control

It’s back to the drawing board for University of the Philippines and head coach Goldwin Monteverde knows exactly where to start.

Just like their previous loss before their stinging 79-88 defeat to De La Salle University last Sunday, the endgame woes continue to haunt the Fighting Maroons.

Defensive lapses in the closing stretch spelled doom for league-leading UP as the Green Archers denied it a formal entry to the Final Four of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 86 men’s basketball tournament in their marquee match at the packed Mall of Asia Arena.

“I guess as a team we need to learn, especially on the defensive end. We have to be consistent,” Monteverde said after the loss that snapped UP’s two-game win run.

The Fighting Maroons played catch up the whole game in the eliminations rematch that saw them absorb their second loss in 10 starts for a tie at the top of the standings with National University.

UP made a good run in the fourth quarter with an 11-4 spurt to take a 75-74 lead in the last 4:45 following a CJ Cansino basket.

But the Fighting Maroons quickly lost momentum as they allowed Most Valuable Player frontrunner Kevin Quiambao to take over in fueling the Green Archers’ closing 14-4 counterattack with 11 points.

“There were parts in the game that I believe our defense was giving in to the plays of our opponent,” Monteverde said after the match against the same rival whom they barely escaped in the first round.

“Our intensity picked up in the third quarter, especially (early) in the fourth but again, we cannot play in spurts.”

UP’s defense in the painted area also suffered miserably without the intimidating presence of reigning MVP Malick Diouf, who was forced to sit out because of an injured right wrist, while point guard JD Cagulangan missed another game to rest a hamstring injury.

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