Akhuetie hits game winner, UP forces decider vs Adamson | Inquirer Sports

Akhuetie hits game winner, UP forces decider vs Adamson

By: - Reporter / @BLozadaINQ
/ 06:11 PM November 24, 2018

Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

Bright Akhuetie sank the game-winning basket to lift University of the Philippines over Adamson in dramatic fashion, 73-71, Saturday night and force a rubber match in the UAAP Season 81 men’s basketball Final Four at Mall of Asia Arena.

Akhuetie, this season’s MVP, found himself free underneath the rim off a well-designed inbound play for the go-ahead bucket with only 2.6 seconds left.

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The Fighting Maroons are in their first Final Four appearance in 21 years but they certainly didn’t look like a team that lack experience as they proved to be the steadier team down the stretch with Paul Desiderio and Akhuetie coming through in the clutch.

Desiderio, the unquestioned heart and soul of the Maroons, thrived in the pressure-packed moments again. He buried a contested step back jumper that put his team ahead, 71-69, with 5.5 seconds remaining before Falcons forward Sean Manganti knotted the count at 71 with a pair of free throws with 3.7 ticks to go.

“My guys made a play when it mattered, Juan made a great pas to Bright, Paul made a jump shot when it was needed,” said UP head coach Bo Perasol.

“Adamson is very resilient and I keep on telling my players that no matter what happens we have to go through these kinds of games and we’re just blessed we got the victory.”

The Soaring Falcons nearly spoiled UP’s party in the fourth quarter when they went on a 26-11 run to take a 69-65 lead after Sean Manganti’s transition layup with 2:18 left in the game.

Desiderio led UP’s scoring with 19 points, all in the second half, with eight rebounds and four assists while Juan Gomez De Liaño also had 19 points with six boards.

Papi Sarr led the Falcons with 23 points and nine rebounds while Manganti had 15 points and five boards.

Adamson and UP meet again in a knockout for a spot in the finals on Wednesday at Araneta Coliseum.

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TAGS: Adamson Falcons, Final Four, Paul Desiderio, UAAP, UAAP Season 81, UP Fighting Maroons
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