An undermanned University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons squad managed to book a ticket to the quarterfinals as they kick out the National University Bulldogs in a thriller, 59-56, Wednesday afternoon at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
Top scorers Paul Desiderio, Juan Gomez de Liano, and Diego Dario’s absence was fully compensated by Noah Webb’s 17 markers and five rebounds.
“It’s a joy to have a battery guy in Noah. He was the catalyst of what we were doing,” said second-year UP head coach Bo Perasol. “He got the rebounds, he got the hustles, he got the follow up, he got the defensive stop. Siya yung do it all guy.”
Gelo Vito and Jarell Lim chipped in eight and seven points respectively.
The first half was dominated by the Maroons after they capped it with an eight point cushion, 29-21. However, NU Bulldog Dave Wilson Yu’s three point prowess ate up the Maroons’ lead. He listed 16 points, 12 coming from downtown. Reggie Morido and Matt Salem also contributed 8 markers each. The Bulldogs forced three deadlocks and even got a lead as high as five points.
In the absence of UP’s top scorers, Perasol had to inspire Cebuano newcomer Jun Manzo.
“In one of the timeouts, I strongly urged him that he cannot be just a passer. I showed him ‘Your teammates are not scorers, you are the scorer, you can pass but think about scoring.’ That made the difference for us,” Perasol shared.
True enough, Jun Manzo hit a crucial triple with 54 ticks left that gave the Fighting Maroons the advantage over the Bulldogs, 59-56. Manzo listed seven points, five assists, and two rebounds.
UP advance to the playoffs of the Premier Cup, a first in nine long years.
“Any experience we’re going to get from that game is going to be valuable for us going to UAAP. It’s a welcome competition,” Perasol expressed.
Dave Yu paced NU with 16 points.
The National University, on the other hand, bow out of the league with a 4-4 win-loss slate. – By: Danine Cruz
UP (59) – Webb 17, Vito 8, Lim 7, Manzo 7, Quattara 5, Gomez de Liano 5, Lao 4, Prado 3, Jaboneta 3, Harris 0.
NU (56) – Yu 16, Morido 8, Salem 8, Alejandro 6, Gaye 5, Bartlett 4, Aquino 4, Abatayo 3, Mosqueda 2, Diputado 0, Tibayan 0, Cauilan 0, Rangel 0, Flores 0, Sistoza 0.
Quarterscores: 15-9, 29-21, 43-43, 59-56.