UP OUSTS UST IN FI­NAL 4 RACE

Akhuetie, Deside­rio take charge as UP ousts UST; Adam­son puts one hand on twice-to-beat play­off in­cen­tive

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - FRONT PAGE - By Cedelf P. Tu­pas @cedelf­p­tINQ

Bright Akhuetie bucked early foul trou­ble and Paul Deside­rio came out in ra­zor-sharp form as Univer­sity of the Philip­pines moved on the cusp of its best sea­son in 14 years af­ter bundling out Univer­sity of Santo Tomas with an em­phatic 83-69 vic­tory Satur­day night in UAAP Sea­son 81 at Smart Araneta Coli­seum.

Im­pos­ing his will in the sec­ond half, Akhuetie siz­zled for 26 points, while Paul Deside­rio fin­ished with 19 points as the Fight­ing Ma­roons climbed to solo fourth with a 7-7 record, while elim­i­nat­ing the Tigers from the Fi­nal Four race.

The Ma­roons have now matched their record in 2004 and an­other win against La Salle on Wed­nes­day will guar­an­tee them at least a play­off for a Fi­nal Four berth. And if Far Eastern U loses to Na­tional U on Sun­day, that clash with the Green Archers could be the game where the Ma­roons will clinch their first Fi­nal Four berth since 1997.

“The best thing that this win has done for us is to place us in a po­si­tion to fight for that slot,” said UP head coach Bo Pera­sol. “We have to put this win be­hind us. We can­not over think this be­cause there is a much more cru­cial game on Wed­nes­day.”

The Ma­roons pounced on the ab­sence of UST rookie sen­sa­tion CJ Cansino who left the game with an ap­par­ent knee in­jury mid­way in the sec­ond pe­riod.

Ear­lier, Adam­son over­came a slow start as it ripped Univer­sity of the East, 85-72, to gain at least a play­off for a twice-to-beat ad­van­tage in the Fi­nal Four.

The Falcons trailed by 17 in the first five and a half min­utes of the game, be­fore find­ing their groove as Sean Man­ganti and Jer­rick Ahan­misi got go­ing to rouse Adam­son out of its funk. “Some­times, you have a flat start think­ing that the other team would just roll over,” said coach Franz Pu­maren, whose team im­proved to 10-3. “Good thing we were able to re­group.” Ahan­misi and Man­ganti com­bined for 42 points, in­clud­ing nine in an­other 14-0 run in the fi­nal pe­riod that handed the Falcons a 67-59 lead with five min­utes to go. "We’re not the type of team that you can de­fine as swash­buck­ling that can blow out teams by 20, 30 points,” said Pu­maren. “We’re a hard­work­ing, blue-col­lar type of a team. We thrive on try­ing to make the other team re­ally work hard for their points.”

—SHERWIN VARDELEON

Bright Akhuetie (back turned) and Paul Deside­rio com­bined to give the Ma­roons a win­ning feel­ing.

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