Maroons upset Archers for rare 2-0 start

Games Saturday

(MOA Arena)

2 p.m. - Adamson vs Ateneo

4 p.m. - UE vs NU

MANILA, Philippines - University of the Philippines played inspired basketball as it pulled off a shock 71-66 victory over a heavily favored La Salle to seize the lead and accomplish many firsts in the 78th UAAP basketball tournament at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday.

Jett Manuel came through with 14 points, five rebounds and five assists while Andres Desiderio and Piero Longa chipped in 13 and 10, respectively, as the Maroons zoomed to their best start since beating Santo Tomas, 69-66 and La Salle, 61-56, to start their season exactly a decade ago.

It was also UP's first win over La Salle since an 83-78 victory on August 22, 2009, ending the former's 10-game losing streak to the latter.

Interestingly, this was also the first streak by the Maroons since they strung together a pair of wins over UST, 70-67, on Aug. 31 and University of the East, 90-85, on Sept. 3 nine seasons back.

"It feels great," said UP coach Renz Bajar, whose charges opened the season with a 62-55 win over UE Saturday, in Filipino.

"This is very important to us because no one expected us to go 2-0. This is the outcome of our hard work in practice," he added.

Unlike before when it has few marked men, UP got contribution from almost everyone including Andrew Harris and Longa, a rookie out of Sacred Heart of Cebu.

Harris had only four points but his two free throws in the stretch and his interior defense helped UP preserved the win.

Longa, for his part, delivered when the Maroons made their move in the first half.

"I know Andrew Harris. There are a lot of coaches who doubt him but for me I think he has big heart especially on the defensive side. What minutes he's been getting, he earned it," said Bajar.

"I've been saying in my interviews before that Pio Longa is secret weapon. I guess it's not a secret anymore," he added.

Coming into this game expected to be blown out, the Maroons surprised everyone by utterly outplaying La Salle in the first half when they led, 41-28.

During that period, the Maroons made 16 of their 33 shots including four booming triples while La Salle bricked 22 of the 31 shots it attempted while turning the ball 11 times.

UP continued its strong play in the third canto when they erected a 54-37 lead, its biggest in  the game.

And then La Salle made its run and a Jeron Teng basket cut its deficit to 61-65 with 45.3 seconds to go.

It turned out the last as the Maroons hung tough enough to preserve the win.

Teng, who had a game-high 18 points in a 67-63 win over defending champion National U last Sunday, was off-rhythm on this one and was held to just 10 points on a four-of-12 shooting from the field and two-of-six from the foul line.

The scores:

UP 71 - Manuel 14, Desiderio 13, Longa 10, Dario 9, Asilum 7, Moralde 5, Harris 4, Vito 3, Amar 2, Gallarza 2, Prado 2, Juruena 0, Kone 0

DLSU 66 - Rivero 15, Caracut 12, Teng 10, Sargent 8, Torres 8, Go 5, Perkins 5, Muyang 3, Navarro 0, Trater 0

Quarterscores: 16-14; 41-28; 54-42; 71-66

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