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Maroons storm back late, turn back Bulldogs

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With the two squads figuring in a tight contest, it was former National University Bulldogs Raymond Aguilar and Gelo Alolino who led the UP-QRS/Jam Liner Maroons squad and turned back the BDO-National University Bulldogs late, 90-85, to end the opening day festivities of the 2016 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup.

The Bulldogs were able to gain an early 15-point lead, 30-15, midway through the second quarter, as UP struggled to find their offensive groove. With the young guns of the squad floundering, the Maroons relied on professional basketball player Juneric Baloria to storm back and cut the BDO lead. However, the hot-shooting of Matt Salem and J-Jay Alejandro claimed a 43-38 lead going into the second half.

Midway through the third quarter, Gelo Alolino tied the game at 50-all with a triple. The Maroon defense was then able to limit the Bulldogs’ offense to long jumpers and free throws late in the quarter, while Desiderio continued to punish the BDO defense as QRS/Jam Liner were able to gain a 66-63 lead to enter the final frame.

The two squads exchanged basket and leads up until the midway point of the fourth quarter. With BDO having gained an 81-78 lead with 4:56 remaining, Alolino knocked down the go-ahead three-pointer to tie the game. After a stop, Alolino then found Aguilar for a top-of-the-arc shot. Foreign student-athlete Alfred Aroga was then called for a flagrant foul, as Aguilar started the fastbreak from a rebound. The Cameroonian was penalized with a three minute penalty.

After Ferrer converted the free throws, Pao Javelona knocked down a layup, but Rev Diputado stole the ball from Aguilar for a wide-open layup to cut the Maroon-lead to just a solitary point, 86-85, with just 48.8 seconds to go. After a timeout, Alolino again found Aguilar for his third rainbow of the game for the dagger. Aroga then committed a costly offensive foul, his sixth of the game, in the ensuing possession. A split on the stripe by Aguilar proved enough as the Maroons were able to escape the Bulldogs 90-85.

“It’s a different game,” team consultant Joe Ward said about the mix of collegiate and professional basketball players in his team. “At the end of the day, a win is a win. It’s a good thing.”

Ward hopes that the experience gained by the UP Fighting Maroons in this tournament will only help in the growth of the team come the UAAP season. “The thing is, the team that played in the D-League in the past have went on to become successful last year. It can’t hurt, it only helps college kids gain experience,” Ward closed.

Incoming UP junior Paul Desiderio led all scorers with 24 points. Desiderio was an efficient 7/8 from the field and 7/9 from the charity stripe, also adding five boards and three steals. 30-year-old Raymond Aguilar added a double-double with 18 points and 13 boards.

For BDO, JJay Alejandro continued to blaze the trail for the Bulldogs with 21 points to lead five players in double-figures. Recently-graduated Pao Javelona added 13 markers while Aroga, Robin Rono, and Ralph Tansingco scored 10 points each.

As a team, QRS/Jam Liner shot a tad better compared to BDO, 43% to 41%. However, the Maroons won the rebounding department, 51-41, that led to a 12-4 second chance point advantage for the victors. In addition, a total of 69 fouls were committed in the game that resulted to 20 free throw conversions for the Maroons while the Bulldogs attempted 44 free throws, converting on 26.

The Scores:
UP-QRS/Jam Liner (90) – Desiderio 24, Aguilar 18, Baloria 16, Alolino 11, Ferrer 8, Batino 6, Soyud 5, Moralde 2, Asilum 0, Dario 0, Harris 0, Neypes 0, Vito 0.
BDO-NU (85) – Alejandro 21, Javelona 13, Aroga 10, Roño 10, Tansingco 10, Salem 8, Labingisa 4, Perez 4, Salim 3, Diputado 2, Yu 0.
Quarterscores: 15-23, 38-43, 66-63, 90-85.

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