UAAP: UP nears Final 4, survives NU
MANILA, Philippines—University of the Philippines averted a late collapse as it survived National U, 80-77, Wednesday to assure itself of at least a playoff spot for a Final Four berth in UAAP Season 82 at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Jun Manzo hit three of four foul shots inside the last 13 seconds to give the Fighting Maroons the cushion they needed to overcome the Bulldogs’ late run.
With the victory, the Maroons improved to 8-4, solifiying their hold of second spot behind the Ateneo Blue Eagles (12-0). The Maroons will seal their Final Four berth if University of Santo Tomas (7-5) beats De La Salle (5-6) later.
The Maroons looked on course to break away late after Kobe Paras nailed a triple for a 77-70 lead with 3:02 remaining. But just like its past outings, UP suddenly went cold at a crucial stretch in the game, allowing the Bulldogs to stay in the thick of the fight.
Playing the finest game of his collegiate career, JV Gallego put the Bulldogs to within two, 75-77, with a lay-up with 44 seconds left. But NU came up empty after forcing a turnover for UP and Manzo converted two free throws following a foul by Gallego, who cut the deficit to two again.
After a Manzo split at the line, Shaun Ildefonso had a great look from beyond the arc, but his shot only hit the back of the rim as the Maroons heaved a sigh of relief.
Paras had another stellar game with 19 points, four rebounds and six assists while Bright Akhuetie chipped in 16 points and 12 boards for UP, which has now won two straight. Manzo finished with 14 points.
Dave Ildefonso led NU with 24 points and six assists while Gallego tallied a career best 20 points. The Bulldogs fell to 2-11.
UP 80 — Paras 19, Akhuetie 16, Manzo 14, Ju. Gomez de Liano 11, Rivero 8, Webb 5, Ja. Gomez de Liano 4, Prado 3, Gozum 0, Jaboneta 0, Murrell 0, Tungcab 0.
NU 77 — D. Ildefonso 24, Gallego 20, Oczon 12, S. Ildefonso 10, Gaye 6, Joson 2, Minerva 2, Galinato 1, Clemente 0, Diputado 0, Malonzo 0, Mangayao 0, Rangel 0, Yu 0.
Quarters: 13-11, 32-25, 56-51, 80-77.
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