Gelo Vito responds to Jett Manuel pep talk with late-game heroics in UP's rare win vs Ateneo
Gelo Vito gets mobbed by the Maroons after his crucial triple against Ateneo. Freddie Dionisio

GELO Vito bared he was inspired by his graduating teammates as he hit the biggest shot of the game to seal University of the Philippines’ rare win over Ateneo in the UAAP Season 79 on Saturday.

The 21-year-old Vito buried a triple from the left corner with 16.4 seconds left ito lead the Fighting Maroons to a 56-52 victory over the Blue Eagles and snap a 14-game losing skid against their neighbors in Katipunan Avenue.

UP’s last victory against Ateneo came in July 28, 2009 when a team led by Woody Co lifted the Maroons to a 68-58 victory over the Norman Black-coached Blue Eagles in a game held at the PhilSports Arena.

The win won’t be possible without Vito, who scored seven in the game but nailed the most crucial basket of the match and end up with a 2-6 win-loss card at the start of their second round campaign.

Vito said the team was pumped up for the game, thanks to the words from veterans led by Jett Manuel, who’s down to the last few games of his collegiate career with the Maroons.

“He talked to everyone na sinabi niya na sana nararamdaman niyo ‘yung sense of urgency ko coming into the second round,” Vito related. “Na-feel namin na last year na niya and we won’t let our seniors down. Good thing nag-deliver lahat.”

Manuel was all the more happy with the inspired efforts of his teammates.

“It can’t be just one or two players to win the game. We all needed someone to step up and that’s what I stressed. I’m happy that Gelo stepped up big time,” said Manuel, who topscored for the Maroons with 15 points.

Vito scored the game-clincher despite an earlier triple was recalled by the referees after an offensive foul was whistled against Paul Desiderio.

“Okay lang naman. Kung hindi naman ika-count, we go to the next play. We can’t dwell on that too much. Tuluy-tuloy lang laro. Hindi kami puwedeng tumigil. Kung mag-dwell kami dun, baka ‘yun pa ang mag-cause na matalo kami,” said Vito. 

Follow the writer on Twitter: @reubensports