//Basketball
UP Fighting Maroons

UP Fighting Maroons One Win Away From Back-to-Back Titles

The UP Fighting Maroons defeated the Blue Eagles to bring them one win closer to defending their UAAP crown.

The University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons are now one game closer to defending their UAAP crown, as they defeated the Ateneo Blue Eagles in game one of the UAAP Season 85 Men’s Basketball Tournament finals, Sunday.

The Fighting Maroons are now just one win away from winning back-to-back championships for the first time in UP’s school history.

Battle of Diliman

UP held a slim lead with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter, holding a 58-56 advantage. Later, Harold Alarcon’s two threes and more baskets from Zav Lucero and Carl Tamayo gave the Fighting Maroons a more comfortable scoreline, 68-58.

“Defensively, we started well,” UP mentor Goldwin Monteverde shared. “Yung movement ng bola was really there. I like the way the team (was) looking for the open man. They had their run kanina but at least na-sustain naman namin nung bandang fourth (quarter).”

On the other side of the court, the Blue Eagles were able to bring the lead down to just five points with two more minutes in the game.

With just over a minute left to play, Dave Ildefonso converted a free throw to bring the score down to a manageable deficit of four points. Tamayo then missed two free throws and Kouame tried to score, only for Lucero to block his attempt.

However, Kouame missed a three-point shot with 17 seconds left, while JD Cagulangan secured the win with two more shots before the final buzzer.

Lucero led UP’s effort, scoring 14 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, and two blocks. Cagulangan also added 12 points, eight rebounds, five assists, and two steals to the team’s winning effort.

On the other hand, Forthsky Padrigao led Ateneo with 16 points and four assists while Kouame produced 15 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks.

With the win, the Fighting Maroons can clinch the crown as early as Wednesday, December 14 at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

The scores:

UP (72) – Lucero 14, Cagulangan 12, Alarcon 11, Diouf 9, Gonzales 8, Tamayo 7, Galinato 6, Spencer 5, Fortea 0, Abadiano 0.

Ateneo (66) – Padrigao 16, Kouame 15, Ildefonso 10, Andrade 10, Koon 9, Lazaro 3, Chiu 2, Gomez 1, Ballungay 0, Daves 0, Quitevis 0, Lao 0.

Quarters: 28-19, 42-35, 54-50, 72-66.