IN the rematch with pal Ron Dennison this season, University of the Philippines’ Paul Desiderio was glad to even the score.
Looking to exact revenge after his high-school teammate emerged on top in their first-round encounter, Desiderio got the victory this time, hitting the game winner as the Maroons downed the Tamaraws to gain a share of fourth in the UAAP Season 80.
With the game clock winding down and the game tied at 56, Desiderio moved left before pulling up right in front of one of the best perimeter defenders in the league to give the Fighting Maroons the lead with 1.1 seconds to go.
Without a time-out, the Tamaraws had to throw the ball the length of the court resulting in a turnover.
“Hindi ko masabi rin… ang nasa isip ko lang talaga tabla or panalo so ayun,” said Desiderio.
“Masaya, masaya na ako naman ang nakaisa,” he added.
Aside from hitting the game winner, Desiderio can also taking pride after a good job as Dennison’s primary defender.
UP held Dennison, FEU’s leading scorer with 12.4 points heading to this game, to just nine points of 4 of 13 shooting with just one assist against a six turnovers.
“Ngayon, ako naman yung Dennison stopper,” said Desiderio.
“Yung mindset ko, last match-up narin namin ni Dennison kasi graduating na siya, iniisip ko kailangan ko siya bawian kasi parati nalang akong dehado sa kanya e,” he added.
UP head coach Bo Perasol said that the last play was really designed for his star guard and even joked about Desiderio’s conscience – or lack thereof.
“Siya lang yung tumira ng 5-22 na may kumpyansa pa so medyo may kakapalan talaga,” Perasol said in jest as he shared a hearty laugh with Desiderio.
“Para sa kanya talaga yun. In fact we made a decision na even when they foul, na yung last shot na yun would be taken by Paul,” he added.
The Maroons coach also lauded the veteran guard for his work on defense.
“We talked about Paul making sure that he paced back Denison as far as defense is considered. Sabi niya coach ako na dedepensa kay Denison because he’s the No. 1 scorer of FEU. Aside from that game winner, all game long, yung depensa niya, yung nagstand-out.”