They were down by 12 twice in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter. And then it happened. That re-energized Fighting Maroon spirit emerged, eager to bounce back from a previous game’s defeat. That hunger for victory powerfully played out in a 21-5 run in the last seven minutes of the game.
For the second time this season, the UP Fighting Maroons clipped the Adamson University Soaring Falcons, 81-77.
Adamson started the game aggressively, gaining first possession and pummeling UP with an 11-2 run three minutes in. The Falcons were driven to sink their claws into the Maroons, who have had no success against the UP dribblers since last season’s semifinals, when the Maroons blanked their twice-to-beat advantage and secured the finals berth. That drive to defeat UP ended the first quarter with Adamson up by eight, 19-11.
The Fighting Maroons shook off their sluggish start and worked harder, making 25 points in the second quarter against the Soaring Falcons’ 18. Jun Manzo started with a putback from his own miss, less than a minute into the quarter. Kobe Paras went from zero in the first quarter to nine in the second. Juan Gomez de Liaño made eight. Bright Akhuetie added six.
On the Falcons side, Val Chauca continued his assault in the second quarter, contributing six more to his 11 in the first. But even with Jerrick Ahanmisi, Vince Magbuhos, Egie Mojica, and Joshua Yerro putting in the points to try and pad the Adamson lead, the San Marcelino squad only managed to step away with a one-point advantage over the Diliman team at the end of the first half, 37-36.
Adamson knew it had to stretch its lead going into the second half, as UP has been known to rally and catch up. Similar to their performance in the first quarter, the Falcons proved to be the tougher team in the third. Despite only three triples to counter five from the Maroons, the Falcons banked ten two-pointers versus the Maroons’ three, raking in 29 points against 21. Free throw shooting was nil in the third quarter for both teams and in the end, Adamson led by nine, 66-57.
The Fighting Maroons knew they were not done yet and pushed to close the 12-point distance from the Soaring Falcons. Three treys courtesy of Gomez de Liaño, Ricci Rivero, and Manzo; three twos from Gomez de Liaño and Manzo again, with another from Paras; and two from the line from Noah Webb and Rivero, put the game in a deadlock at 74 with 3:27 remaining.
And just like UP’s kick-off to the second quarter, Manzo again pushed his offensive game, delivering a putback from his own miss and claiming a two-point lead for the Maroons. But quick-eyed Falcon Jeron Lastimosa saw an opening and got away from Gomez de Liaño, sinking a three-point basket with the game clock at 1:47 and taking back the Adamson lead, 77-76. Six seconds later, Gomez de Liaño crossed the half court, passed the ball to Bright Akhuetie, who gave it to Paras standing beyond the arc. He only gave it a second’s thought before letting the ball fly and sinking the three for a two-point UP lead,79-77, with 1:25 left in the game.
It was Rivero’s big steal of the Adamson ball from the inbound pass of Ahanmisi to Chauca that sealed the deal for UP. Maroon possession saw Manzo receiving the ball from Rivero and passing it to Akhuetie who drove to the paint, getting a foul from Ahanmisi. Making his two charities, Akhuetie pushed the UP lead to four. The Maroons upped their defense, leaving the Falcons no other choice but to force difficult shots. With eight seconds remaining, an offensive foul was called on Lastimosa when the Falcon stuck his foot out taking a three-point jumper against Paras. While UP wasn’t able to add more points to its score, the buzzer ended the game with a Maroon win.
The Fighting Maroons tightened its hold on the second spot in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament with seven wins and four losses.