Coming off three straight losses, the University of the Philippine Fighting Maroons finally found their finishing kick, showcasing it against the De La Salle University Green Archers, 67-61, Sunday afternoon at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
“I’m just relieved that we were able to get that win. We are hoping that we can continue this in the next games,” expressed third-year UP head coach Bo Perasol.
And it was the tandem of Juan Gomez de Liano and Bright Akhuetie who linked up to lead the UP front. Gomez de Liano, a sophomore guard, had 17 points and six assists, while Akhuetie, a transferee from Perpetual Help, had another monster double-double outing with 19 points and 19 rebounds.
The two proved to be a force in the third canto.
Akhuetie rallied UP back, while a thunderous jam by De Liano gave UP a 38-37 lead with 7:34 left in the quarter. UP’s surge continued to start the final frame, as De Liano and Akhuetie sparked a 10-2 run to give UP a 61-47 lead.
But the quartet of Justine Baltazar, Aljun Melecio, Santi Santillan, and Andrei Caracut answered right back with an 11-0 spurt.
“I think we all know that our end game… It’s not much to be desired this game. But we need these types of games. It was a painful game for us against Adamson. When you lose those games, we lost confidence and the only way to get that back is by winning,” said Perasol.
Gomez de Liano was not to be denied, scoring four straight points to give the Fighting Maroons enough breathing room.
UP climb to 2-3 for solo fifth while dropping La Salle to an even 2-2 record.
Justine Baltazar led the 11-man Green Archers with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Santi Santillan also tallied a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds, while Melecio chipped in 12 markers on 4-for-14 shooting.
UP will have a week off before facing the National University Bulldogs on Sunday, October 7, at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum. La Salle’s grind continues on Wednesday, October 3 when they take on the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
UP 67 – Akhuetie 19, Gomez de Liano Ju 17, Desiderio 12, Gomez de Liano Ja 7, Manzo 6, Dario 2, Vito 2, Tungcab 2, Spencer 0, Lim 0, Murrell 0, Gozum 0, Jaboneta 0
DLSU 61 – Baltazar 13, Melecio 12, Santillan 12, Caracut 9, Dyke 8, Go 5, Serrano 2, Bates 0, Manuel 0, Capacio 0, Corteza 0
Quarterscores: 13-12, 29-33, 51-45, 67-61