UNIVERSITY of the Philippines shocked La Salle, 71-66, on Thursday to notch its second win in as many games in the UAAP Season 78 seniors basketball tournament at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Jett Manuel spearheaded the attack as the Fighting Maroons gained the unlikely spot at the top of the team standings by pulling the rug from under the Green Archers.
UP matched its 2-0 start in 2005 and ended its run of futility against the Green Archers, whom they last beat on August 22, 2009.
Manuel had 14 points, five rebounds, and five assists, Paul Desiderio added 13 markers, while rookie Pio Longa scored 10 points for the Fighting Maroons, who led by as many as 17 points.
“Ang sarap,” said UP rookie coach Rensy Bajar. “Hindi ko masabi ’yung pakiramdam, basta napakasaya namin at maganda ’yung naging panalo namin.”
The Maroons shot 48.5 percent from the field in the first half for a 41-28 lead. A triple by Gelo Vito followed by a jumper from JR Gallarza put the Maroons ahead, 54-37, in the third period.
La Salle fought back and launched a 14-2 run to move within four points, 61-65, with 45.9 seconds to play. But Andrew Harris nailed two crucial free throws for a six-point UP advantage.
“It feels really good to win more than one game. We want more,” said Manuel.
Prince Rivero had 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Green Archers, who dropped to 1-1 despite winning the rebounding battle, 50-37.
UP (71) — Manuel 14, Desiderio 13, Longa 10, Dario 9, Asilum 7, Moralde 5, Harris 4, Vito 3, Amar 2, Gallarza 2, Prado 2, Juruena 0, Kone 0.
DLSU (66) — Rivero 15, Caracut 12, Teng 10, Sargent 8, Torres 8, Go 5, Perkins 5, Muyang 3, Navarro 0, Trater 0.
Quarterscores: 16-14; 41-28; 54-42; 71-66.