UP they go: Maroons end decades-long finals absence
The UP Fighting Maroons are back in the UAAP finals after 32 long years.
Philstar.com/Erwin Cagadas Jr.

UP they go: Maroons end decades-long finals absence

Cris Santos (Philstar.com) - November 28, 2018 - 8:10pm

MANILA, Philippines – University of the Philippines finally ended a 32-year finals drought after turning back No. 2 seed Adamson University, 89-87, in overtime in their do-or-die match in the 81st UAAP men’s basketball tournament on Wednesday at the jampacked Araneta Coliseum.

Paul Desiderio anchored the Fighting Maroons’ fight back after trailing 78-84 in overtime as he scored the last five in their 11-3 run to book a ticket in the finals for the first time since 1986.

UP will meet No. 1 seed and defending champion Ateneo in the best-of-three championship series, which starts on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

“After Jerom Lastimosa made that three-point shot, it took away the spirit from us. I was already thinking na mananalo at nasa isip ko na ang Ateneo and when that shot came in, ang hirap ibalik na lumaban pa,” said UP head coach Bo Perasol.

“But the guys refused to give up like Juan (Gomez de Liano), Paul (Desiderio) and Bright (Akhuetie). They’re just too tired and when I saw our opponent also tired, I knew this will be a grind out game and who wants it more will make it,” he added.

Gomez de Liano led the Fighting Maroons with 30 points, 25 came in the first three quarters as UP led by as high as 16 points, 60-44, midway in the third period.

But Adamson kept on hanging and Lastimosa’s triple with 2.6 seconds left n regulation send the game in overtime, 78-all.

Desiderio had the chance to win it in regulation but his three-point attempt rimmed out.

The Soaring Falcons came out charging in overtime, scoring the first six points, 84-78, but UP refused to give up and answered with an 11-3 windup, the last five came from Desiderio, to seal the Battle of Katipunan finale.

Desideiro finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds while Akhuetie, who was slowed down by cramps in the second half, added 13 points and 17 boards.

Jerrick Ahanmisi, who had only nine in their 71-73 loss last Saturday, led Adamson with 20 points while Lastimosa and Papi Sarr contributed 17 and 16 points, respectively.

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