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Paul Desiderio ties career-high as UP eliminates NU, hopes for FEU loss


Paul Desiderio and the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons saved their best performance of the season for when they needed it the most, blasting the National University Bulldogs, 106-81, to keep their playoff hopes alive, Saturday afternoon.

With the win, UP end their elimination round campaign with a 6-8 slate. The Fighting Maroons are hoping for an FEU Tamaraws loss against the Adamson Soaring Falcons later in the day, to force a tie for the last Final Four slot.

“We had mixed feelings for this game. First, this is a fitting farewell for these young guys. Paolo [Romero] was with UP for seven years, Andrew [Harris] also seven, Ibra [Outtara] last three,” said second-year Fighting Maroons head coach Bo Perasol.

1997 was the last time the Fighting Maroons made it to the post-season.

“I was telling them at the beginning that we need these kinds of games, wala na naman yung bola sa kamay namin, we gave ourselves a chance for a playoff,” Perasol added.

Paul Desiderio set the tone for UP, scoring 21 of his career-high tying 30 points in the first half. Moreover, the De Liaño brothers, Javi and Juan, combined for 24 points in the opening 20 minutes of the contest to gain a 13-point lead by halftime.

“Nasa isip ko lang, ibibigay ko kay Paolo, sa kanilang apat yung panalo,” said Desiderio, who finished with 30 points as well during UP’s win over La Salle last September 25.

Seeing Desiderio lead the way, the Fighting Maroons continued to push the pedal in the third frame, extending their double-digit lead with Ibrahim Outtara and Jun Manzo leading the way. UP’s lead went to as high as 25 points, 88-63, after a Juan Gomez De Liano jam off the break and a Outtara bucket with with 8:35 remaining.

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Juan Gomez De Liano, a rookie out of UPIS, finished with 22 points on 7-for-12 shooting to go along with 13 rebounds. His older brother Javi tallied 17 points and 10 rebounds. Manzo chipped in 14 markers, while Ouattara added 12 points and 13 rebounds.

“This is a defining moment for the program. Their mindset is that they’re not willing to go to vacation,” beamed Perasol.

UP’s lead would go to as low as 14 points late in the game, but baskets by super seniors Andrew Harris, Paolo Romero, and Rob Ricafort not only bucked the Bulldogs’ rally — they also sent the UP faithful in attendance into a frenzy.

Issa Gaye led NU with 25 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks.

The Bulldogs ended their Season 80 campaign with a 5-9 record, the same card as last season but a notch lower than their fifth place finish a year ago.

J-jay Alejandro and Matt Salem played their final UAAP game.

Alejandro finished his stellar five-year career with 16 points, four rebounds, eight assists, and two steals. Salem added seven points and seven rebounds off the bench.

The Scores:

UP 106 – Desiderio 30, Gomez de Liano Ju 22, Gomez de Liano Ja 17, Manzo 14, Ouattara 12, Webb 3, Lim 2, Harris 2, Ricafort 2, Romero 2, Prado 0, Jaboneta 0

NU 81 – Gaye 25, Alejandro 16, Joson 7, Salem 7, Tibayan 7, Mosqueda 4, Bartlett 4, Diputado 3, Cauilan 3, Aquino 3, Morido 2, Yu 0, Abatayo 0, Lastimosa 0, Flores 0, Rangel 0

Quarterscores: 34-21, 58-45, 84-60, 106-81

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