Philippine Daily Inquirer
Despite tightrope win, Maroons still await Final Four fate after Archers defang Tigers
cons with a 6360 victory earlier, while rising to a 7-6 for fourth spot.
Providing La Salle a lift when it needed it the most, Jamie Malonzo, Aljun Melecio and Brandon Bates all came through with big games as the Archers climbed to 6-6, while denying the Growling
Tigers—and the Maroons—an outright Final Four spot.
Justine Baltazar also dished out a solid output of 14 points and 11 rebounds.
“As you know, the standings are really tight, and we’re happy that we kind of responded well, the players responded with urgency today,” coach Gian Nazario said.
Playing in his one and only year of eligibility for La Salle, Malonzo finished with a gamehigh 23 points, including an electrifying reverse dunk in the final period, while Melecio poured 11 of his 18 points in the last two periods for the Archers, who are still in fifth spot, just half a game behind Far Eastern U.
By n ow, University of the Philippines coach Bo Perasol is use d to watchi ng h i sf ighting Maroons walk the tightrope before pulling out av ictory in UAAP Season 82.
But apa rto f the UP mentor is also waiti ngf ort he day when everything falls into place for hi ss tar-studde dt eam—when even the toughes to fs ituations will hardly trouble the Maroons.
Time and again this season, UP has shown iti sm ore than capable of handli ng p ressurepacked scenarios.
Dragge di nto anothe r ti ght contest, the Maroons needed cushio nf ree thro ws f rom Jun Manz o to complet ea thrilling 80-77 win ove rt he National U Bulldogs o n We dnesday and close in o naf inal Four spot at Smart Aranet ac oliseum.
“What’s importan ti sh ow wew in in the end,” Peraso lsa id. “That mind-set, despite what happene di n t he f irst, second, third ,f ourth quarter , we w in in the last 20 seconds, 10 seconds, that matters. That’s what matters t he m ost and for me, we just have to align ourselves.”
Peraso l un derstand sh ow his team has struggle d to d eal with the expectations this season.
“I was telling them that even though we are on t heb rink of getting in to t he F inal Four, they’r en ot [suppose dto be] that excited because the expectatio nsa r eal itt leb it highe rt han that,” said Perasol, whose team faces La Salle on Sunday.
The Maroo ns l ooke d on course to break away lat eaf ter Kobe Paras nailed a triple for a 77-70 lead with 3:02 remaining. But just like its pas to utings, UP suddenly went cold at ac rucial stretch in the game, allowing the Bulldogs to stay in the thick of t hef ight.
Paras had another stellar game wit h 19 p oint s, f ou rr ebound s an d six assist s wh ile Bright Akhueti e ch ippe di n 16 point s an d 12 b oard sf or UP, which has no ww on two straight.
Manzo finished wit h14p oints while Juan Gomez d el iaño added 11 p oint san d 11b oards.
Manzo made three o fh is four foul shots inside t hef inal 13 seconds to seal anothe rti ght win, bu tt he Maroons were once agai nma de to wait to clinch a sp oti n the next phase after De La Salle overcame University of Santo Tomas, 80-79, in the third game.
The Tamaraws eliminate dt he A damson Fal