UNIVERSITY of the Philippines put itself in position for a playoff for a Final Four berth after defeating National University, 106-81, on Saturday in the UAAP Season 80 basketball tournament at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Paul Desiderio exploded with 30 points, hitting a three at the end of the third period to give UP an 84-60 lead.
That big cushion was enough for the Fighting Maroons to finish the elimination round with a 6-8 win-loss record.
The Maroons now wait for the result of the FEU Tamaraws’ game against the Adamson Falcons.
The Tamaraws held a 6-7 record entering the match and could earn the No. 4 spot in the semifinals with a win.
An FEU loss, however, will send the Tamaraws to a playoff with the Maroons.
Rookie Juan Gomez de Liano had 22 points and 13 rebounds, while brother Javi Gomez de Liano chipped in 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Jun Manzo delivered 14 points, while Ibra Ouattara, one of the four UP graduating players, had 12 points and 10 rebounds.
“I have mixed feelings about this game. No. 1, this is just a fitting farewell to these brilliant guys,” said UP coach Bo Perasol, who brought Ouattara, Paolo Romero, Andrew Harris, and Rob Ricafort during the postgame press conference to pay tribute to the graduating players.
“Wala naman ’yung bola sa kamay namin (Final Four berth). What’s important right now is we gave ourselves a chance for a playoff. Whatever happens, I’m proud of how they played. This is going to be a defining moment for our program,” said Perasol.
Issa Gaye had 25 points and 10 rebounds, while J-Jay Alejandro, who played his final game as an NU Bulldog together with Matt Salem, ended his collegiate career with 16 points, four rebounds, eight assists and two steals.
UP 106 – Desiderio 30, Ju. Gomez de Liano 22, Ja. Gomez de Liano 17, Manzo 14, Ouattara 12, Webb 3, Lim 2, Harris 2, Ricafort 2, Romero 2, Prado 0, Jaboneta 0.
NU 81 – Gaye 25, Alejandro 16, Joson 7, Salem 7, Tibayan 7, Mosqueda 4, Bartlett 4, Diputado 3, Cauilan 3, Aquino 3, Morido 2, Yu 0, Abatayo 0, Lastimosa 0, Flores 0, Rangel 0.
Quarterscores: 34-21; 58-45; 84-60; 106-81.