Unlike their elimination round games, the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons were put to the test by the Vanguard University Lions, acing it 84-77, Saturday evening in the semifinals of the 2019 BLIA Cup in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
The Fighting Maroons now await the winner of the other bracket pitting Huaquiao University and Chien Hsin University of Science and Technology.
UP though had to gut it out against the American school, trailing 34-47 at the half.
Anchored by Bright Akhuetie, UP limited Vanguard to just 12 points in the third canto to cut the lead down to just a solitary point entering the final frame.
Akhuetie tallied 26 points, 13 rebounds, two steals, and a block.
It was a nip and tuck affair in the final frame up until Kobe Paras knocked down to freebies for the go-ahead points. Jun Manzo knocked down two more before a basket by Javi Gomez de Liano and a jam by Paras put UP up 81-74 to put the game out of reach with just 30 seconds remaining.
Paras had 15 points and five rebounds while Gomez de Liano added 10 markers.
Jaybie Mantilla chipped in 11 points while fellow Cebuano Jun Manzo tallied nine points and seven assists.
Christian Wilson paced Vanguard with 14 points and 11 rebounds while Jonah Tolmaire and Isaiah Gentry added 13 markers each.
UP 84 – Akhuetie 26, Paras 15, Mantilla 11, Gomez de Liano 10, Manzo 9, Murrell 7, Webb 3, Tungcab 3, Spencer 0, Gob 0, Jaboneta 0.
VU 77 – Wilson 14, Tolmaire 13, Gentry 13, Hayward 10, Magee 10, Moore 7, Mohammadi 5, Scherer 3, St. Leon 2, Willis 0.
Quarterscores: 17-24, 34-47, 58-59, 84-77.
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