UNIVERSITY of the Philippines stayed in contention for a Final Four berth on Sunday with a rousing 72-67 victory over University of Santo Tomas in the UAAP Season 79 seniors basketball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Arena.
The Fighting Maroons, who snapped a 19-game losing skid against the Growling Tigers, continued to surprise as they improved to 5-8 (win-loss), tying National University for fifth spot in the team standings.
With the victory, the Maroons get a chance at tying their output in 2005, their best mark in over a decade, when they play University of the East in their final match of the eliminations on Sunday.
State U remained in the hunt for the Final Four but standing in the way of that dream is Adamson, which at 6-5 only needs a win to secure a playoff spot.
“Hindi naman namin naiisip ‘yan. Mas malakas ‘yung dating ng 19 games na hindi natalo ‘yung UST,” said UP coach Bo Perasol.
"Nandun pa rin ‘yung nasa isip nila na may chance sa Final Four and we agreed that hindi naman namin inasam ‘yan. I think we were able to achieve something that we are proud of."
Paul Desiderio had 16 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists for the Maroons, who also got key contributions from Noah Webb and Kyles Lao.
Webb had nine points while Lao scored all six of his points in a third-quarter 11-0 blitz that had the Maroons pulling away, 47-36.
Louie Vigil had 16 points but fouled out midway through the fourth quarter for the Growling Tigers, who are already eliminated from the Final Four picture.
UP (74) — Desiderio 16, Webb 9, Manuel 8, Dario 6, Gomez De Liano 6, Lao 6, Moralde 6, Vito 5, Asilum 3, Harris 3, Lim 3, Prado 3, Espanola 0, Romero 0.
UST (69) — Vigil 16, Huang 13, Faundo 10, Lee 9, Sheriff 8, Lao 5, Basibas 4, Subido 4, Afoakwah 0, Caunan 0, De Guzman 0, Macasaet 0.
Quarters: 14-12, 31-30, 53-47, 74-69.