Maroons rebound | Inquirer Sports

Maroons rebound

After getting encouragement from a former school great, Manzo leads UP in arresting two-game skid
By: - Reporter / @cedelfptINQ
/ 04:50 AM October 13, 2019

Finding difficulty settling into his role this season following his team’s roster buildup, University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons guard Jun Manzo was searching for answers to his struggles.

Former UP star Paul Desiderio, who was the leading figure of the Maroons’ never-say-die spirit last season, found the perfect time to reach out to Manzo.

The result was a breakout performance from the spitfire guard on Saturday night as the Maroons turned back University of the East, 78-75, to end a two-game slide in the UAAP Season 82 at Mall of Asia Arena.

The Cebuano guard spearheaded the Maroons’ fiery start and tallied a season-high 17 points, while Bright Akhuetie and Kobe Paras delivered down the stretch as UP hiked its record to 6-4.

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“I was so down the last game and didn’t really know what to do,” Manzo said in Filipino.

“Paul [Desiderio] messaged me on Instagram and told me to come to his house. He prepared food for me and we had a heart-to-heart talk. He told me not to give up because there are still plenty of games this season. After that, I felt light.”

Desiderio, who now plays for Blackwater in the PBA, was instrumental in bringing Manzo to Manila to play for the Maroons with the two forming a dynamic tandem last season.

“It just clicked for me, thanks to Paul,” said Manzo, who nailed three triples in the first quarter as the Maroons raced to a 27-8 advantage.

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Earlier, Adamson put the clamps on National U in the final quarter to come away with a 72-53 victory that ended a four-game slide.

Jerrick Ahanmisi led a balanced offensive with 15 points, but it was the Falcons’ airtight defense in the final period that helped them hike their record to 4-6.

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Rookie AP Manlapaz scored 10 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter, while Simon Camacho had 13 points and six rebounds for Adamson, which outscored NU, 24-6, in the fourth quarter.

“We needed this win,” said Adamson coach Franz Pumaren. “Every game for us now is important. The bench really stepped up.”

Much like UP’s win this season, the game once again went down-the-wire with the Warriors nearly completing a sensational comeback in the final period.

Trailing 50-65 entering the final period, the Warriors held the Maroons to just four points in the first seven minutes, while turning to Alex Diakhite, who had 15 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter.

“Finally, we were able to bounce back,” said assistant coach Ricky Dandan, who called the shots in place of the suspended Bo Perasol.

“We would have wanted a convincing win, but we’ll take this coming off back-to-back losses.”

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Paras buried a triple to extend the lead to 72-67 with 2:21 remaining, before assisting on Javi Gomez de Liaño’s basket on the next play. Akhuetie answered Diakhite’s basket with a putback off a Ricci Rivero miss to restore the seven-point lead.

TAGS: Basketball, Jun Manzo, Sports, UAAP Season 82, UP Fighting Maroons

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