UP fends off NU, climbs to fourth
ANTIPOLO—University of the Philippines jumped to the fourth seed of the standings after taking care of National University, 82-71, in the UAAP Season 81 men’s basketball tournament Saturday at Ynares Center here.
The Fighting Maroons, who were tied with Far Eastern University prior to the game, improved to an even 6-6 card while the Bulldogs slipped to 3-8.
NU will now have to rely on UP, University of Santo Tomas, and FEU to lose their remaining games if it hopes to enter the Final Four.
UP started to create distance between the second and third quarters going on a 13-0 run the Bright Akhuetie finished off for the Fighting Maroons’ 44-30 lead.
The Bulldogs, though, were able to get within striking distance after Dave Ildefonso buried back-to-back three-pointers to trim UP’s lead to seven, 76-69, with less than two minutes left.
UP’s seniors Gelo Vito and Paul Desiderio, however, responded NU’s rally in the final two minutes.
Vito was the first to hit, on a second-chance layup in transition, which put UP ahead 78-69 while Desiderio followed that up with a clutch basket with 37.4 seconds left for the Fighting Maroons’ 80-71 buffer.
“The emphasis was we agreed that we have to be 11 games wiser now,” said UP head coach Bo Perasol. “There were a lot of times that we didn’t mature in the games we had in the past especially going up against strong rallies and NU was poised to have a strong rally again.”
Bright Akhuetie led UP’s scorers with 24 points while grabbing 10 boards with Desiderio putting up 12, eight in the fourth, and Vito scoring a total of 10 points after tallying seven points in the final frame.
Ildefonso had a game-high 24 points with six rebounds to lead the Bulldogs.
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