Zavier Lucero led the charge for University of the Philippines after putting up a dominant performance over University of the East en route to an 81-68 win in the UAAP Season 84 Men’s Basketball Tournament, Tuesday afternoon, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Lucero scored a total of 20 points to finally break his personal slump after being held in single digits in scoring for three consecutive games in the second round. He also produced 14 rebounds, three assists, and three blocks in 27:12 minutes played.
More importantly, the Fighting Maroons improved to a 10-2 record. They have also secured the twice-to-beat advantage as the second seed in the playoffs.
“Working pa rin kami as a team — how to get ‘yung rhythm namin as a team; how to execute as a team, which nakikita ko we’ve been doing for the whole game naman kanina,” UP head coach Goldwin Monteverde said. “Siyempre itong remaining games namin, although alam namin nasa top two na kami, we need to work on and continue to build the momentum towards sa Final Four.”
Strong was the start of the Fighting Maroons who ended the first quarter with an 18-8 advantage. The lead eventually ballooned in the second quarter as UP held an 18-point lead at halftime.
A 20-point margin was the largest deficit in the game as the Red Warriors never got close to the Fighting Maroons for the remainder of the contest. That led UE to absorb a lopsided defeat.
Ricci Rivero added 17 points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals, and a block. Malick Diouf notched six points and 15 rebounds for UP.
The Fighting Maroons got a boost from the production of their bench, which generated 47 points as compared to the Red Warriors’ 32. UP also won the battle of the boards after outrebounding UE, 57-47.
Meanwhile, the Red Warriors dropped back to a 0-12 tally. They are still searching for their first win of the season.
Jojo Antiporda led the Recto-based squad with 15 points and three assists, while Nico Paranada followed with 13 points, nine rebounds, three assists, and a steal. Clint Escamis had an all-around performance with nine points, 11 rebounds, eight assists, and a steal of his own.
Both schools shall next play on Thursday at the SM MOA Arena. University of the East (0-12) takes on National University (4-7) at 10:00 AM; meanwhile, University of the Philippines (10-2) matches up against University of Santo Tomas (3-8) at 7:00 PM.
UP 81 – Lucero 20, Rivero 17, Cansino 8, Tamayo 7, Eusebio 7, Diouf 6, Abadiano 6, Cagulangan 4, Fortea 4, Spencer 2, Calimag 0, Alarcon 0.
UE 68 – Antiporda 15, N. Paranada 13, Escamis 9, K. Paranada 8, Beltran 7, Sawat 4, Pagsanjan 4, J. Cruz 3, Villanueva 3, Lorenzana 2, Abatayo 0, Tulabut 0, Guevarra 0, Pascual 0, P. Cruz 0.
Quarterscores: 18-8, 44-26, 59-44, 81-68.