University of the Philippines escaped National University anew, taking a thrilling 80-77 win in the UAAP Season 82 Men’s Basketball Tournament, Wednesday at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
Jun Manzo came alive in the second half, pouring in 12 of his 14 points and leading the Fighting Maroons to back-to-back victories. They also hike their record to 8-4.
UP can secure the semifinals spot if either FEU, who is facing Adamson as of press time, or La Salle, taking on UST later in the day, lose their respective games.
“The expectations are a little higher than that. Parang dapat lang na nandoon tayo,” said coach Bo Perasol. “But we have to count our blessings. We can’t go to the highest point of the competition if we can’t get to the next level.”
Kobe Paras finished with 19 points, six assists, four rebounds, and one block, while his three-pointer with 3:02 remaining pushing the Fighting Maroons ahead, 77-70.
But the Bulldogs kept pushing, cutting the lead down to two, 77-75. They still had a chance to tie the game up had John Lloyd Clemente converted on his left wing jumper. But he missed terribly on his shot, leading to Manzo going 3-of-4 from the line with 13 seconds to play.
The door remained open for NU in the clutch, but Shaun Ildefonso botched his potential game-tying trey at the buzzer.
Bright Akhuetie poured 16 points, 12 rebounds, two assists, and two steals. Juan Gomez de Liaño also nabbed 11 points, 11 rebounds, and six dimes in the win.
JV Gallego racked a career-best 20 points, five rebounds, and three assists to compliment Dave Ildefonso’s 24 points, six boards, six assists, and three steals.
NU remain the cellar with its 2-10 card.
UP takes on the DLSU Green Archers in its penultimate game of the round on Sunday, October 27 at 4:00 pm. NU, on the other hand, faces the Ateneo Blue Eagles on Saturday. Both games will be at the Ynares Center.
UP 80 — Paras 19, Akhuetie 16, Manzo 14, Ju. Gomez de Liano 11, Rivero 8, Webb 5, Ja. Gomez de Liano 4, Prado 3, Gozum 0, Jaboneta 0, Murrell 0, Tungcab 0.
NU 77 — D. Ildefonso 24, Gallego 20, Oczon 12, S. Ildefonso 10, Gaye 6, Joson 2, Minerva 2, Galinato 1, Clemente 0, Diputado 0, Malonzo 0, Mangayao 0, Rangel 0, Yu 0.
Quarterscores: 13-11, 32-25, 56-51, 80-77.