MANILA, Philippines – The University of the Philippines overcame a stiff challenge from La Salle to extend its undefeated streak with a 67-64 win in the UAAP Season 86 Men’s Basketball Tournament on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Gerry Abadiano buried the go-ahead jumper, 65-63, with 1:01 left before Reyland Torres knocked down a pair of pressure-filled free throws and CJ Cansino made a crucial steal as the Fighting Maroons earned their sixth straight victory.
“It’s about pride,” Abadiano said in Filipino after scoring 13 points with four rebounds and two assists. “We were blessed because we got this win. But this is only the first round, we are not done yet. We still have a lot of games and we still have a lot to improve as a team.”
Staring at a 50-38 deficit after a Kevin Quiambao triple to start the third quarter, UP clicked on both ends of the floor and unleashed a blistering 21-0 run and held La Salle without a field goal for the next 14 minutes.
Yet somehow the Archers managed to fight back and even tie the game at 63 on a hook shot from Quiambao with 4:29 left before Abadiano regained the lead for good from the Fighting Maroons.
“We started flat on both sides in the first half and our defense in the second half made the difference. Things went much better in the second half. We really worked for the loose balls, we were able to recover. It’s about wanting it more for us,” said UP Goldwin Monteverde, whose side will go for a first-round sweep in a finals rematch against defending champion Ateneo on Sunday.
Reigning MVP Malick Diouf scored a double-double of 10 points and 18 rebounds with two blocks and two steals to boot, while Harold Alarcon also had 10 points to go with eight rebounds and one steal.
La Salle absorbed its second straight loss and fell to a 3-3 record tied with Ateneo and Adamson.
Phillips led the Green Archers with 15 points, 14 rebounds, three blocks and two assists, while Quiambao had 14 points and seven rebounds as they were missing Evan Nelle due to a quad contusion.
UP (67) – Abadiano 13, Alarcon 10, Diouf 10, Lopez 7, Cansino 7, Torres 7, Belmonte 7, Cagulangan 6, Felicilda 0, Alter 0, Torculas 0, Pablo 0, Gonzales 0.
DLSU (64) – M. Phillips 15, Quiambao 14, David 7, Manuel 7, Nwankwo 6, Nonoy 5, Austria 5, Abadam 2, Macalalag 2, Policarpio 1, B. Phillips 0, Escandor 0, Gollena 0.
Quarter scores: 21-28, 38-47, 59-50, 67-64