Coming from an overtime win over Adamson, the University of the Philippines once again figured in a nail-biter.
This time around, the Fighting Maroons survived a furious endgame rally from the National University Bulldogs, taking an 80-79 win, Wednesday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
The Fighting Maroons lost hold of a 14-point second quarter advantage and a 78-71 lead in the final 2:13, needing a couple of breaks just to eke out the win.
Dave Ildefonso then tried to bring the Bulldogs back with a booming trey with 11.6 ticks left, making it a one-point affair.
David Murrell muffed his freebies late, opening one last window for NU. Unfortunately, John Lloyd Clemente’s 15-foot jumper was way short, as the final buzzer sounded.
“We need to learn how to close out games as a team. That’s a process,” said coach Bo Perasol.
Kobe Paras paced UP with 25 points, six rebounds, and two assists as they rose to a 3-1 slate.
Last season’s Bright Akhuetie got himself a double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Meanwhile, Javi Gomez de Liano was blazing from deep with his 17 points on 5-of-7 shooting from three.
This is the fourth straight heartbreak for the Bulldogs, as they remained in the cellar at 0-4.
Ildefonso led NU with 25 points, five rebounds, and two assists in another failed heroic try.
Senegalese center Issa Gaye registered 13 points, 13 boards, and one block. Shaun Ildefonso scored 13 points and seven rebounds.
UP look to make it three in a row when they face the UE Red Warriors on Saturday, September 21 at the Ynares Arena in Antipolo City. NU, on the other hand, look to crack the win column on Sunday as they take on the Ateneo Blue Eagles at the same venue.
UP 80 –– Paras 25, Akhuetie 19, Ja. Gomez de Liano 17, Tungcab 6, Manzo 4, Rivero 4, Longa 3, Murrell 2, Ju. Gomez de Liano 0, Gozum 0, Jaboneta 0, Prado 0, Spencer 0.
NU 79 — D. Ildefonso 25, Gaye 13, S. Ildefonso 13, Gallego 9, Joson 8, Minerva 7, Clemente 2, Mosqueda 2, Diputado 0, Galinato 0, Malonzo 0, Oczon 0, Tibayan 0, Yu 0.
Quarterscores: 18-23, 44-36, 67-59, 80-79.