By Jun Ray Navarres
University of the Philippines took care of National University, 79-57 to secure the twice to beat advantage for the UAAP Season 86 Men’s Basketball Final Four, Sunday evening at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
The Bulldogs lost their fangs in front of the Fighting Maroons’ supremacy on both ends of the floor, unable to take the lead from the jump ball up to the final buzzer.
“We knew how tough NU as an opponent is. We really needed to prepare ‘yong defense naming. At the same time, trying to improve pa rin playing as a team on both ends. I felt from the start, although sa gitna may mga challenges during the game, we as a team, we played well, we played together and we just have to sustain that,” said head coach Goldwin Monteverde.
UP wasted no time in asserting their dominance, going for an immediate 10-0 lead to which NU chipped down to a 32-26 ball game before the Fighting Maroons went for 42-30 during the halftime.
Led by CJ Cansino, the Fighting Maroons shut down all the lights in front of NU, establishing a commanding 77-52 lead with only 4:05 left in the timer. The Bulldogs tried their best to bite back, but UP’s depth proved to be a tall order for them.
NU was able to secure a 16-9 offensive rebounding advantage but failed to convert as UP was slightly ahead in second chance points, 13-10.
UP also outpassed NU 22-11 while snatching the ball 15 times against the latter’s seven. The Fighting Maroons made sure to convert the 22 turnovers of NU into 28 points, whilst Malick Diouf commanded the paint, earning a huge 38-18 gain.
Francis Lopez led UP’s scoring with 13 baskets while Diouf and Cansino added 11 a-piece. Jake Figueroa spearheaded NU with 15 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, three steals, and two blocks.
UP (12-2) now sits at the top spot of the standings while waiting for the winner of Wednesday’s playoff between Ateneo de Manila University (7-7) and Adamson University (7-7).
The loss to NU (10-4) has dropped them to third spot and will be going up against De La Salle University (11-3).
Featured photo courtesy of UAAP
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