ANTIPOLO — University of the Philippines’ bid for a Final Four spot in UAAP Season 81 got a major boost as it outlasted National University, 82-71, on Saturday at the Ynares Center.
Coming off a disappointing 80-72 defeat at the hands of the Adamson, the Fighting Maroons looked sharper against the young Bulldogs, leading by as many 16 points before fighting off a late explosion from Dave Ildefonso.
With the rookie sensation waxing hot anew, the Fighting Maroons turned to their veterans in Paul Desiderio and Gelo Vito to put away the Bulldogs.
The win pushed the Fighting Maroons back in fourth spot with a 6-6 record, half a game ahead of the idle FEU Tamaraws and UST Growling Tigers with 5-6 records.
Desiderio finished with 12 points, four rebounds and four assists as Vito came off the bench to provide the spark with 10 points.
“We cannot settle here, we have a very very important game next weekend .What we did here was to just give us a chance, we need to win the next games ahead of us,” said UP head coach Bo Perasol, which plays UST and La Salle to end their elims campaign.
“We knew that they were gonna comeback, we just have to be ready for it,” he added.
Bright Akhuetie led the way for the Fighting Maroons with 21 points, 10 rebounds and three assists as Juan Gomez de Liano had 10 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
Things got heated in the endgame as David Murrell dunked the ball with the game already wrapped. Troy Rike and Dave Ildefonso took exception to that prompting a commotion late before cooler heads prevailed.
Ildefonso finished with 24 points and six rebounds as Joshua Sinclair added 13 points and five boards for NU, which dropped to 3-8.
UP 82 – Akhuetie 21, Desiderio 12, Ju. Gomez de Liaño 10, Vito 10, Manzo 8, Murrell 8, Prado 6, Gozum 4, Ja. Gomez de Liaño 2, Diego 1, Tungcab 0, Jaboneta 0, Spencer 0, Lim 0.
NU 71 – D. Ildefonso 24, Sinclair 13, Gallego 9, Rike 7, S. Ildefonso 6, Salim 6, Clemente 5, Gaye 1, Diputado 0, Yu 0, Tibayan 0, Galinato 0.
Quarterscores: 17-15; 40-30; 60-49; 82-71.