PAUL Desiderio buried the go-ahead triple with 11.9 seconds to play in the fourth as the University of the Philippines pulled off a 71-68 victory over Far Eastern University on Wednesday in the Filoil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup.
Desiderio canned the crucial three-point shot from the right corner to lift the Maroons to a 69-68 lead. Arvin Tolentino missed a jumper on FEU’s final possession, and Jun Manzo sank a lay-up to settle the final count.
The Fighting Maroons rose to 4-1 in the team standings, tying the Tamaraws in Group B.
FEU was up by four when Desiderio also hit two free throws to cut the Tamaraws’ lead to two points with 43.6 seconds left in the fourth.
“That was just him, making that three-point shot in the end for the lead,” said UP coach Bo Perasol.
Desiderio struggled with just 1-of-9 shooting to finish with 12 points but made the basket that mattered most for UP.
“All game long, we’ve been trying to encourage Paul. He has been missing a lot in the beginning. But since he is our number one scorer and attacker, we just kept on encouraging him and keep on attacking and score for us,” said Perasol.
Manzo topscored for the Maroons with 13 points, while adding six rebounds, and four assists, while Ibrahim Quattara had 12 points and 12 boards.
The Maroons trailed big in the fourth despite holding a 38-32 halftime lead following a triple by Manzo with 0.5 seconds left in the half, but UP’s confidence never wavered when their shots weren’t falling.
UP finished the match with a 27-of-70 clip from the field.
“What was important is that we didn’t lose our focus when we were down by 10. We were just behind but we can’t shoot. We were defending really well,” said Perasol.
Tolentino finished with 12 points for the Tamaraws in their first defeat after five games.
UP (71)—Manzo 13, Desiderio 12, Quattara 12, Lao 9, Dario 7, Gomez de Liano 7, Webb 5, Ricafort 2, Prado 2, Harris 0, Romero 0, Vito 0.
FEU (68)—Tolentino 12, Inigo 10, Bienes 9, Orizu 7, Ramirez 6, Nunag 6, Escoto 6, Tuffin 5, Comboy 2, Ebona 2, Bayquin 2, Parker 1, Trinidad 0.
Quarters: 18-20, 38-32, 50-53, 71-68.