UP Men’s Basketball Team off to a do-or-die vs UST

| Written by Jo. Florendo B. Lontoc

Ricci Rivero is scoreless at the first half. Photo by Jun Madrid, UP MPRO

 

The UP Fighting Maroons and the UST Growling Tigers are now on equal footing as both are one win away from securing the remaining UAAP Season 82 Men’s Basketball finals berth, after UST’s 89-69 win over UP in the first stepladder semifinals game on November 10 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

UP, swallowing a three-game sweep by UST of their matches this season and losing their twice-to-beat advantage as second seed, was left with one last chance to beat UST on November  13 at the Mall of Asia Arena, for the best-of-three finals slot against the undefeated Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles.

 

UP gets first ball possession. Photo by Jun Madrid, UP MPRO

 

Team captain Noah Webb displays intensity. Photo by Jun Madrid, UP MPRO

 

Last Sunday UP never took the lead, and in the first quarter only managed to keep UST’s lead from going double-digit. The game’s last deadlock happened early in the first quarter at seven points apiece.

 

Ricci Rivero tries to score. Photo by Jun Madrid, UP MPRO

 

Kobe Paras tries to save the basket for the fallen Bright Akhuetie. Photo by Jun Madrid, UP MPRO

 

Juan Gomez de Liaño took the cudgels for the Maroons, scoring 20, his season’s best. Bright Akhuetie remained a top-scorer with 19; but season top-scorer Kobe Paras was reduced to a low nine, and point guard Jun Manzo, to zero.  Ricci Rivero was within his average at 12 points, making half of these in the last two minutes, when he returned to play after being substituted for scrapes on his right hand.

 

Jerson Prado is subbed for an injury early in the first quarter. Photo by Jun Madrid, UP MPRO

 

Bright Akhuetie gets a free hand. Photo by Jun Madrid, UP MPRO

 

UST’s Rhenz Abando, Soulemane Chabi Yo, Mark Nonoy, Sherwin Concepcion, and CJ Cansino all scored double-digit. Abando, Nonoy, and Concepcion sank half of their three-point attempts for a total 27 points of the team’s 33 from outside the perimeter, as against UP’s total of nine, all from Gomez de Liaño.

 

Ricci Rivero is guarded by Zach Huang. Photo by Jun Madrid, UP MPRO

 

Bright Akhuetie lays the ball up past Dave Ando. Photo by Jun Madrid, UP MPRO

 

UST led by 19 twice in the third quarter, 50-31 and 52-33. UP was able to cut the gap to just nine, three times in the last quarter, the last of which was at 72-63 with 3:12 left in the game. But UST hammered its way to a bigger lead with two consecutive treys by Concepcion, a block of Akhuetie, and a basket by Chabi Yo at the turn of the last two minutes, raising their lead to 80-63.

 

Soulemane Chabi Yo won’t let Kobe Paras’s shot through. Photo by Jun Madrid, UP MPRO

 

Juan Gomez de Liaño is 3/4 on the line. Photo by Jun Madrid, UP MPRO

 

Chabi Yo made three more baskets and Nonoy chipped in another three-pointer, rendering Rivero’s six points in the last two minutes for naught.

 

The Maroon crowd moments before the game. Photo by Jun Madrid, UP MPRO

 

The UP Pep Squad’s most applauded formation in their half-time performance. Photo by Jun Madrid, UP MPRO

 

UP head coach Bo Perasol offered no excuses during the post-game press conference.” The way we played in most of the quarters, there was just no way we could win against UST,” he said. “We couldn’t bring that kind of game to any team. We have to be a lot better.”

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