FINAL Four is within reach for University of the Philippines as it survived a furious rally from National University with an 80-77 thriller Wednesday in the UAAP Season 82 men's basketball tournament at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Jun Manzo scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half, and finished with three rebounds and two assists as the Fighting Maroons improved their win-loss record to 8-4, secured at least a playoff for a semifinal spot.
UP can lock up a Final Four seat if either FEU or La Salle fall in their outings in this loaded gameday. The Tamaraws face the Adamson Falcons, while the Archers face the UST Tigers.
Kobe Paras put up a triple with 3:02 left to make it 77-70, but NU chipped the lead away and got to within two points in the final minute.
The Bulldogs still had a shot to knot the game at 77, but John Lloyd Clemente muffed his potential game-tying midrange jumper, leading to Manzo canning three of his four charities in the final 13 seconds that made it a three-point lead for the Fighting Maroons.
Shaun Ildefonso missed a three-point attempt and the Fighting Maroons escaped with the win.
Kobe Paras led UP with 19 points, six assists, four rebounds and one block, while Bright Akhuetie notched a double-double of 16 points, 12 boards, two assists and two steals.
Juan Gomez de Liano also sustained his groove, tallying 11 points, 11 rebounds and six dimes for the Fighting Maroons.
Coach Bo Perasol said that it's only right that the Diliman crew make it to the semifinals especially with the heavy expectations.
"The expectations are a little higher than that. Parang dapat lang na nandoon tayo," he said. "But we have to count our blessings. We can’t go to the highest point of the competition if we can’t get to the next level."
Dave Ildefonso led NU with 24 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals, as JV Gallego registered a career-best 20 points, five boards and three dimes.
The also-ran Bulldogs remained at the bottom of the standings at 2-10.
UP 80 - Paras 19, Akhuetie 16, Manzo 14, Ju. Gomez de Liano 11, Rivero 8, Webb 5, Ja. Gomez de Liano 4, Prado 3, Gozum 0, Jaboneta 0, Murrell 0, Tungcab 0.
NU 77 - D. Ildefonso 24, Gallego 20, Oczon 12, S. Ildefonso 10, Gaye 6, Joson 2, Minerva 2, Galinato 1, Clemente 0, Diputado 0, Malonzo 0, Mangayao 0, Rangel 0, Yu 0.
Quarterscores: 13-11; 32-25; 56-51; 80-77.