The UP Fighting Maroons gained enough lead in the first half to buffer itself from an NU Bulldogs barrage in the second, managing an 80-77 win in their UAAP second round match-up on October 23 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. UP inched closer to the Final Four as it solidified its second-place ranking after the Ateneo Blue Eagles.
Kobe Paras, Bright Akhuetie, Jun Manzo, and Juan Gomez de Liaño all scored in double digits: 19, 16, 14, and 11, but were collectively eclipsed by NU’s 24, 20, 12, and 10 courtesy of Dave Ildefonso, JV Gallego, Migs Oczon, and Shaun Ildefonso, respectively.
Although UP proved to have the more rounded team, with Ricci Rivero, Noah Webb, Javi Gomez de Llano, and Jerson Prado chipping in 8, 5, 4, and 3, respectively; as against the rest of the Bulldogs who only managed to add 11 points to the team score.
UP’s biggest lead came early in the second quarter with a three-pointer by Juan Gomez de Liaño bringing UP’s score up to 26 over NU’s 12.
The Bulldogs prevailed in the third quarter. Oczon exploded with three straight threes, followed by Dave Ildefonso’s steal and shoot combo plus another basket. Ildefonso tied the game at 56 with another three-point shot early in the fourth quarter.
UP responded with two treys from Manzo and inside baskets from Akhuetie, Javi Gomez de Liaño, and Rivero, bringing UP up by seven, 74-67.
But the Bulldogs bit back harder. Gallego sank two baskets and Dave Ildefonso shot a three and a charity to make eight points that kept NU alive despite another Maroon trey from Paras. NU was only down by three with less than a minute left, 75-77.
The last 15 seconds saw alternating trips to the line. Manzo was first and went two for two. Then it was Shaun Ildefonso, who also made both charities. And it was back to Manzo again, who only sank one of two to bring the score to 80-77, with less than 10 seconds left. Gallego brought the ball to the NU court, where John Lloyd Clemente and Shaun Ildefonso were both positioned beyond the arc, but the latter just managed to bounce the ball off the rim.
Video by KIM Quilinguing, UP Media and Public Relations Office