UP secures Final 4 slots

It was a good Wednesday for UP.

On Nov. 8, the UP Fighting Maroons secured final four ranking in both the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments in Season 86 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP).

The UP Men’s Basketball Team (UPMBT) thwarted the last-ditch effort of the University of the East (UE) Red Warriors, 79-72, at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City. Meanwhile, the UP Women’s Basketball Team (UPWBT) dominated the Far Eastern University (FEU) Lady Tamaraws, 70-55, at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena in Pasay City.

At the Smart-Araneta Coliseum, UPMBT had a sluggish start and was trailing by four points, 17-21, at the end of the first period. The UP Fighting Maroons then found its rhythm and uncorked a 16-11 scoring-blast late in the second quarter to take the upper hand 43-38, at the half-time break.

Harold Alarcon’s jumper at the 3:53 mark of the third period gave the UP Fighting Maroons their biggest lead of the game, 58-45. Just when the UPMBT seemed to pull away from UE, the Red Warriors answered with a 10-2 run to cut the UP Fighting Maroons’ lead to five points, 55-60, going into the final frame.

It was a tight contest between the two teams in the payoff period. The UPMBT was ahead by eight points, 69-61, but UE’s Jack Cruz-Dumont carried his team to even the score, 69-69, with three minutes and 48 seconds remaining.

The UP Fighting Maroons then responded with two free throws from Malick Diouf and a floater from CJ Cansino to give UPMBT some breathing room, 73-69, still with two minutes and 41 seconds to go.

Cansino’s floater shot against the UE defenders. Photo from the UAAP Media Team

Cruz-Dumont once again hit a triple to cut UPMBT’s lead to one point, 73-72, with a little over a minute left. In the ensuing play, JD Cagulangan found Francis Lopez alone in the shaded area for an alley-oop play to extend UPMBT’s lead to three, 75-72, with 33.3 ticks left.

UPMBT’s stifling defense foiled UE’s plan to capitalize on their ball possession as Rey Remogat’s shot went airball. Cagulangan then scored on a free throw, while Diouf stole the ball from UE’s Ethan Galang to seal the game for the UP Fighting Maroons.

Diouf, who was named best player of the game, had another superb outing for the UP Fighting Maroons, scoring 19 points, 15 rebounds, five steals, and two assists. Cansino added 17 points, while Cagulangan scored nine points. Lopez and Gerry Abadiano chipped in eight points apiece.

Diouf shoots a free throw. Photo from the UAAP Media Team

Over at the MOA Arena, the UPWBT overwhelmed the Lady Tamaraws and barged into the final four after 15 years.

The UP Fighting Maroons were in control of the game from the get-go. They were ahead by nine points, 34-25, going into the second half of the game. 

UPWBT’s good defense and ball distribution extended their lead to 17 points, 55-38, at the end of the third quarter. The determined UP Fighting Maroons continued their dominance in the payoff period en route to a victory.

(From left) Pesquera, Louna Ozar, Shanina Tapawan, and Marian Domingo. Photo from the UAAP Media Team

Kaye Pesquera led the balance attack for the UP Fighting Maroons with 17 points, seven rebounds, and three steals. Christie Bariquit, Achrissa Maw, and Rizza Lozada scored 11 points apiece.

Bariquit scores on a layup. Photo from the UAAP Media Team

The UPMBT will face the FEU Tamaraws on Nov. 11, 2 p.m., while the UPWBT will play against the De La Salle University Lady Archers also on Nov. 11, 9 a.m. Both games will be played at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.