UST dropped to 5-8 with the loss as UP scored its seventh win, the most for the Maroons in 14 years.
Bright Akhuetie once again flexed his muscles and dominated as he powered the Fighting Maroons’ strong finish to put away the Growling Tigers.
Akhuetie also got significant help from the UP shooters as Paul Desiderio, Gelo Vito and Janjan Jaboneta all found their mark from beyond the arc.
The win was somehow overshadowed by the injury of UST star rookie CJ Cansino who went out with what was initially assessed as a knee sprain midway through the second quarter. With 5:57 remaining in the second quarter and the Growling Tigers ahead 34-26, Cansino tweaked his left knee as he looked to drive past UP’s David Murrell.
From then on it was all UP as the Growling Tigers grew cold while the Fighting Maroons found their stride.
“The best thing that this win has done for us is to place us in a position to fight for that slot. We need that one win on Wednesday,” said UP head coach Bo Perasol.
“We have to put this win behind us. We cannot overthink this because there is a much more crucial game on Wednesday,” he added.
Akhuetie finished with 25 points, 18 rebounds and a block as Desiderio added 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
Juan Gomez de Liano added 11 points, six rebounds and five assists, while Jaboneta scored seven of his nine points in the payoff period.
Marvin Lee led the way for the Growling Tigers with 26 points as Renzo Subido chipped in 22. The two combined to shoot 11 three pointers.
UP 83 – Akhuetie 25, Desiderio 19, Ju. Gomez de Liaño 11, Jaboneta 9, Murell 6, Manzo 5, Prado 3, Vito 3, Ja. Gomez de Liaño 2, Lim 0, Tungcab 0, Spencer 0, Española 0, Gozum 0, Longa 0.
UST 69 – Lee 26, Subido 22, Bataller 7, Mahinay 4, Marcos 3, Huang 2, Cansino 2, Caunan 2, Zamora 1, Agustin 0, Bonleon 0.
Quarterscores: 19-22; 42-38; 63-54; 83-69.