The rematch between the Fighting Maroons and the Red Warriors was a maintained intense game as much as in the previous round, at the Mall of Asia arena on October 12 for UAAP Season 82’s round 2. The UE squad was a hard team to beat. However, the UP Men’s Basketball Team returned to the court with consistent offensive play and better defense. It was a redemption game for the Fighting Maroons, as well as a return of the momentum especially to Jun Manzo and Ricci Rivero, as they overcame the Red Warriors in a 3-point lead victory coming from a two-time loss.
Solid offense and sure fire three- and two-pointers by Jun Manzo, Kobe Paras and Bright Akhuetie respectively defined the first quarter of the game. Leading the team in the first run of the game were Manzo, Akhuetie, Paras, Jaydee Tungcab, and Jaybie Mantilla. The smart ball passes and tight play coordination resulted in UP’s biggest lead of the game, and ruled the early part of the match with 27 points against 10.
The second quarter was manned by brothers Javi and Juan Gomez de Liaño, Noah Webb, Ricci Rivero, and Jerson Prado. Establishing the first score of the quarter, Rivero delivered his 3-point shot at the line. However, the Red Warriors stepped up with Rey Suerte’s consistent shots that inched the team’s way to a tie with the Fighting Maroons at 41 points in the last minute of the quarter. Reclaiming the leg were Manzo’s signature shot—a teardrop that made a 3-point difference for UP leading the game in the last two seconds, ending the quarter in favor of the Fighting Maroons, 46 against 41.
In the third quarter, the Fighting Maroons maintained their tough offense with Manzo, Ju. Gomez de Liaño, Paras, Akhuetie, and Tungcab at work, concluding the quarter with a 15-point lead by UP, 65 points against UE’s 50 points.
It was another edge-of-the-seat moment in the last minute of the game. As the Red Warriors inched their way close to the lead score, they picked-up the play ultimately at 3:12 minutes left on the clock with only a two-point deficit, 67-69. But the quarter was saved by Paras’ 3-point shot at 2:18 minutes making a 72-67 lead. And Paras’ play by his strong ball pass to Javi for two made a 74-67 lead with 1:51 left on the clock. Also, Akhuetie’s 2-point shot, a saved opportunity from Rivero’s failed attempt, brought the lead to 76-69 with 1:10 minutes remaining.
Down the line, it was a series of free-throw exchanges, between UE’s Chris Conner, Alex Diakhite, and UP’s Manzo and Ja. Gomez de Liaño. The game ended with the Fighting Maroons’ return in the winning column with 78-75.
At the post-game press conference, the men of the game, Manzo and Akhuetie, were brought to the table by assistant coach Ricky Dandan. “We were able to bounce back. In the perfect basketball world, we would have wanted a more convincing one, but we’ll take this of course because we’ve come from back-to-back losses,” Dandan said. “We still have to work hard for the upcoming game against UST, and we will practice as early as tomorrow,” he added.
A productive weekend game it was with the Fighting Maroons garnering 78 points from: Akhuetie 18, Manzo 17, Paras 14, Ja. Gomez de Liano 10, Rivero 10, Ju. Gomez de Liano 4, Mantilla 3, Tungcab 2.
The win over UE is significant for the Fighting Maroons, despite the absence of Fighting Maroons Coach Bo Perasol, to prove their worth in keeping their solo second standing (6-3). They are out to prove it once more, together with Coach Perasol fresh from a two-game suspension, and this time around to conquer UST’s Growling Tigers on Wednesday, October 16 at the Mall of Asia Arena.