The UP Fighting Maroons Men’s Basketball Team (UPMBT) is back in the Finals.
This came after the UP Fighting Maroons defeated the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Blue Eagles, 57-46, in their semifinals match at the Season 86 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men’s basketball tournament on Nov. 25 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Malick Diouf, who was named best player of the game, powered the UP Fighting Maroons with 12 points, 16 rebounds, three steals, and three blocks. Diouf also got the much need support from Francis Lopez, Janjan Felicilda, and Gerry Abadiano in the crucial stretch of the game
The UP Fighting Maroons struggled in the early part of the game and were down by three points, 22-25, at the half time break. The UPMBT led by Diouf, Sean Aldous Torculas, and Felicilda, with stifling defense and better ball distribution, came alive in the third period and were able to grab the lead, 42-37, going to the final quarter.
The Blue Eagles were able to come within two points, 40-42, on split free throws and undergoal basket by Mason Amos at the 9:12 mark of the final period. However, Abadiano, Lopez, and Felicilda worked together for the UP Fighting Maroons’ 11-6 scoring run. This increased their lead to seven points, 53-46, with two minutes and 23 seconds remaining.
In the ensuing plays, the team shut off the Blue Eagles offensive plays before Lopez scored on a layup and two free throws to send the UP Fighting Maroons in the Finals for three straight seasons.
Lopez also contributed 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Felicilda, and Abadiano chipped in 10 and nine points, respectively.
The UP Fighting Maroons will face the De La Salle University Green Archers in the Finals. Game one of the best-of-three final series will be played on Nov. 29, 6 p.m., at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.