By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons got back on the winning track yesterday after they defeated the University of the East (UE) Red Warriors, 84-71, for their second win in three games so far in Season 80 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP).
Lost in their previous game, the Maroons nipped a possible skid in the bud by fighting hard, led by veteran Paul Desiderio, and bucking an early struggle against the Warriors en route to booking the win.
UE had it solid to start the game against UP, racing to a 23-10 lead at the 2:30 mark of the first quarter following a tight affair in the opening minutes.
The frame ended with UE ahead, 27-18.
In the second quarter, UP made its move on both ends of the court to gain back some of the ground it gave to UE.
The Maroons outgunned the Warriors, 16-6, in the first seven minutes to reclaim the lead, 34-33.
UE though would survive the onslaught of UP thanks to Clark Derige who drained some big baskets to help the Warriors to stay ahead, 42-38, at the halftime break.
Desiderio then caught fire to start the third frame, scoring 13 of the team’s first 15 points to tow the Maroons to a 53-48 advantage with six minutes to go.
It was a push that UP would ride on the rest of the way to establish a 64-49 cushion at the end of the canto.
UE tried to claw its way back with its pressing defense and Alvin Pasaol aggressive on offense.
Desiderio And Company, however, had other plans, upping their game to even establish their biggest lead of 22 points with five minutes remaining.
The Warriors managed to trim their deficit to 12 points, 81-69, with less than a minute to go but they could not come closer than that with the Maroons going for the closeout thereafter.
Desiderio top-scored for UP with 28 points, 16 coming in the key third quarter, to go along with 10 rebounds.
Ibrahim Ouattara had 14 points and 18 rebounds while Jun Manzo had 10 and Javy Gomez de Liano had nine points.
Derige led UE (0-3) with 21 points while Mark Maloles had 16 and Pasaol 12 markers.
“Going into the game I was concerned of our mind-set after the beating we got from Ateneo in our last game. But the guys responded well and we were able to win over a tough UE squad,” said UP coach Bo Perasol after their victory.