UP tops Ateneo, moves one win away from back-to-back crowns

University of the Philippines inched closer to defending its crown, foiling Ateneo de Manila University with a 72-66 victory in game one of the UAAP Season 85 Men’s Basketball Tournament finals, Sunday, in front of 18,211 fans at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

The Fighting Maroons are now just one win away from winning two consecutive crowns for the first time in school history. They can clinch the crown on Wednesday, December 14 at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

“Defensively, we started well,” said Fighting Maroons mentor Goldwin Monteverde. “Yung movement ng bola was really there. I like the way the team (was) looking for the open man. They had their run kanina but at least na-sustain naman namin nung bandang fourth (quarter).”

UP held a slender 58-56 edge at the 7:22 mark of the fourth quarter. Two threes from Harold Alarcon, as well as baskets from Zav Lucero and Carl Tamayo, then gave the Fighting Maroons a 68-58 cushion with 4:39 left in the contest.

Ateneo, though, retaliated strongly.

The Blue Eagles were able to trim the deficit to just 65-70 with 2:13 remaining thanks to the efforts of BJ Andrade, Josh Lazaro, and Ange Kouame.

Dave Ildefonso converted one free throw to cut UP’s lead to just four points with over a minute to play. Tamayo then missed two free throws and Kouame tried to score, only for Lucero to block his attempt.

With 17 seconds left, Kouame missed a desperate three while JD Cagulangan iced the game with two charities.

“Preparing for Ateneo, alam naman namin kung anong klaseng team ang Ateneo. Hindi naman tayo talaga pwede mag-relax. We’ve always talked about it na playing against Ateneo, we should really play good defense,” added Monteverde.

Lucero led UP with 14 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, and two blocks followed by Cagulangan’s 12 points, eight rebounds, five assists, and two steals. Alarcon contributed 11 points, four rebounds, two assists, and one steal.

Malick Diouf had nine points and 10 rebounds while Cyril Gonzales had eight points. Carl Tamayo chipped in seven points, four rebounds, two assists, one steal, and one block.

State U’s bench mob had an impressive showing with 35 points compared to Ateneo’s 15. The Fighting Maroons also had 13 fastbreak points and 10 turnover points while the Blue Eagles were only able to make one each for both categories.

UP also had 38 points in the paint while Ateneo only mustered 24.

Forthsky Padrigao led Ateneo with 16 points and four assists while Kouame produced 15 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks. Ildefonso and Andrade scored 10 points each with the former clinching seven rebounds.

The scores:

UP (72) – Lucero 14, Cagulangan 12, Alarcon 11, Diouf 9, Gonzales 8, Tamayo 7, Galinato 6, Spencer 5, Fortea 0, Abadiano 0.

Ateneo (66) – Padrigao 16, Kouame 15, Ildefonso 10, Andrade 10, Koon 9, Lazaro 3, Chiu 2, Gomez 1, Ballungay 0, Daves 0, Quitevis 0, Lao 0.

Quarters: 28-19, 42-35, 54-50, 72-66.


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