PAUL Desiderio finally broke out of his shell in the UAAP Season 81 as he powered University of the Philippines to a huge win over Far Eastern University 95-82 on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Desiderio came out guns ablaze, going six of six from rainbow country in a sizzling first quarter to set the tone for the dominant victory.
Not even an injury scare in the third period could stop the veteran guard out of Cebu, as he wound up with a career-best 31 points, on 7-9 shooting from downtown, alongside four assists and two steals, a far cry from his season averages of 11.9 points on 20.4 shooting from threes.
Desiderio was at the forefront of the first quarter shootout, leading the Fighting Maroons to a 37-point quarter and resulting in their second straight win, and the wire to wire victory.
Bright Akhuetie and Juan Gomez de Liano then picked up the cudgels from Desiderio as the Fighting Maroons improved to 5-5 and tied the Tamaraws at fourth and fifth place.
“This was a big win for us, not only as far as standing is concerned but with us fighting through the middle of it, grinding it out and looking for ways on how to hold off the runs of FEU,” UP coach Bo Perasol said.
“I’m just happy and proud of my team but right now it ends right there because we have a game this weekend again, so we have to find away to push with this kind of effort and get another win this weekend,” he added.
Gomez de Liano just missed out on another triple-double as he finished with 19 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists as Bright Akhuetie also flirted with his own triple-double with 20 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and two blocks.
Jun Manzo finished with 11 points, five rebounds and three assists.
Brandrey Bienes paced the depleted Tamaraws as he finished with 14 points as they played without the injured Prince Orizu and the suspended Arvin Tolentino.
Barkley Ebona added 13 as Wendell Comboy finished with 12.
UP 95 – Desiderio 31, Akhuetie 20, Gomez de Liaño Ju. 19, Manzo 11, Dario 6, Gomez de Liaño Ja. 4, Jaboneta 2, Gozum 2, Vito 0, Murrell 0, Lim 0, Prado 0.
FEU 82 – Bienes 14, Eboña 13, Comboy 12, Cani 11, Iñigo 10, Escoto 10, Ramirez 5, Stockton 3, Parker 2, Tuffin 2.
Quarters: 37-30, 54-43, 78-65, 95-82