UP storms back from a double-digit deficit as the Fighting Maroons dispatch the La Salle Green Archers to arrange a UAAP championship showdown against Ateneo
MANILA, Philippines – For the second time in the last four years, the UP Fighting Maroons are back in the UAAP finals after denying the La Salle Green Archers a Season 84 semifinals sweep, 78-74, on Friday, May 6 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Katipunan neighbors now meet once again as UP and defending champion Ateneo clash in a best-of-three title series starting Sunday, May 8, still at the MOA Arena.
Rookie Carl Tamayo came through the final stretch as the Maroons rallied from a 14-point deficit in the final quarter, 56-70, to stun the Green Archers in the knockout duel.
Tamayo completed the scoring run of his life with a go-ahead and one-conversion with 21.5 ticks left, giving the Maroons their first lead of the game when they most needed it, 76-74,
La Salle’s Evan Nelle had a shot to tie the game with 7.6 seconds left, but his floater had a very unlucky roll, straight to the outstretched arms of Tamayo, who calmly sank his last two free throws for the 22-4 comeback.
Tamayo made up for a frigid 2-of-13 shooting game in the first three quarters, and scored 12 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter plus 10 rebounds, 4 steals, and 3 assists.
Malick Diouf churned out a 14-point, 17-rebound double-double with 4 steals and 2 blocks, while rookie Harold Alarcon had the game of his life filling in for the injured CJ Cansino with 14 points, 6 boards, 2 steals, and a block in 26 minutes.
Schonny Winston paced La Salle’s stunning, season-ending loss with a game-high 26 points on 9-of-17 shooting, while Michael Phillips tallied a 10-point, 17-rebound double-double.
In his final UAAP game, Justine Baltazar unfortunately disappeared with just 9 points on 4-of-13 shooting and 8 rebounds in over 35 minutes of floor time.
“For almost the entire game we were struggling on the floor, but my players just didn’t give up, and we overcame adversity,” said first-year UP head coach Goldwin Monteverde after the nail-biting win.
“I don’t know what I’m feeling right now, but I just remembered when we were five men down injured, everybody just made the decision that whatever happens, we’ll never give up.”
The Archers looked headed for an upset win as they moved minutes away from overcoming the No. 2 Maroons’ twice-to-beat advantage.
But La Salle – who forced the do-or-die match after winning last Wednesday with an 83-80 decision – folded as UP showed the same grit that made it the only team to beat mighty Ateneo this season.
UP 78 – Tamayo 19, Diouf 14, Alarcon 14, Rivero 12, Abadiano 7, Cagulangan 6, Spencer 5, Lucero 1, Ramos 0.
La Salle 74 – Winston 26, Nonoy 11, M. Phillips 10, Baltazar 9, Nelle 6, Manuel 4, Nwankwo 4, Lojera 2, Austria 2, B. Phillips 0.
Quarters: 15-22, 39-44, 51-64, 78-74.