UP secures twice to beat after eliminating La Salle

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University of the Philippines writes history for taking twice-to-beat advantage for the first time in Final 4 era.

The Fighting Maroons poured their all to defeat De La Salle University, 71-68, in the UAAP Season 82 men’s basketball tournament, Sunday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.

UP clinched second seed in the Final 4 boosting them a twice-to-beat advantage in the playoffs. With a 9-4 win loss record, the Fighting Maroons are set to face the defending champions Ateneo, wherein they can dent Ateneo’s possible sweep in the regular season.

Meanwhile, La Salle is now eliminated from the semifinals with the defeat. The grasping Green Archers needed to win their last two games in order to clinch the fourth seed, but fell short against the fiery run of the Fighting Maroons.

“How could we disappoint our community who came here in throngs, kept on supporting us all through the season?” said UP coach Bo Perasol after the game.

“I have to give honor to them for just being warriors. Everybody contributed,” he added. “Right now, we’re given the chance to be proud of what we have done.”

UP was more than prepared as they lead as much as 16 points in the second period, 27-11. But the Green Archers did give up easily and sparked a 21-0 run to take the lead 32-27, with under three minutes left.

The Fighting Maroons responded with their own 8-2 run to take a 35-34 lead before the halftime. Jun Manzo was a walking bucket after he drilled the three-pointer that regained up the lead.

All that is left, the Green Archers neglected to raise the white flag and key players Melencio, Malonzo kept them in the game. A clutch lay-up was delivered by Serrano to cut the lead into two with 1:35 remaining.

Akhuitie responded with a quick two in the paint and the UP’s defense suffocates La Salle as they committed a crucial turnover in the next possession. With a minute to play, Manzo sets up Kobe Paras for a highlight dunk and extended the lead to four.

Akhuetie had 17 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals, while Ricci Rivero tied his season-high with 12 points. Manzo’s stellar performance includes 11 points, 8 assists, and just one turnover in 30 minutes of action.