AFTER struggling to find his rhythm in the first two games, Paul Desiderio is glad to have found his range.
The challenge now for Desiderio is how he’ll maintain it as UP enters a tough four-game stretch with games against La Salle, Far Eastern University, Adamson and National University.
Desiderio as career high 28 points on an efficient 9 for 16 shooting and pulled down 10 rebounds to tow the University of the Philippines past University of the East on Sunday.
The fourth year Cebuano guard did most of his damage in a red-hot third quarter where he fired 16 points to single-handily outscore the Red Warriors, who scored only seven.
The Fighting Maroons in total had 26 on that stretch as they erased a 14 point first half deficit to take a 64-49 lead into the payoff period.
“First two games, masyado akong gigil. Tina-try ko talaga isettle yung sarili ko na relax lang kasi yun nga, forced shots yung first two games, sobrang panget buti nalang ngayon, na-control ko na yung sarili ko,” Desiderio said as he made five of his nine treys, mostly coming from excellent ball movement.
His explosion came after a sluggish start to the season offensively where he just nailed 10 of his 38 shots good for just 26.3 percent as the Maroons split their first two games.
In their loss the Blue Eagles, Desiderio was limited to just nine points on 4-18 shooting, but Desiderio insisted that he did no extra- work after that struggle.
Instead, he focused on calming himself down.
“Pinrepare ko lang yung sarili ko parin. Alam ko naman na andun na ako, kailangan ko lang (ibalik) yung sarili ko,” he added.
“Enjoy lang namin tong panalong to. Tapos bukas prepare na kami para sa La Salle.”
Had they lost in this game, they would have been entering their game against La Salle next week with back to back losses and a battered morale.
“That’s really really big for us. I think without that we would be struggling all game long. It was a good game for him that he got his confidence back and it was a good game for us because it took away the life from UE,” said UP coach Bo Perasol whose confidence on his gunner never wavered.
“What a time to get his game back. This is an important game for us. Because we’re going to meet very tough teams in the next two weeks. We need to get as much wins as we can,” he added.