Rookie Javi Gomez De Liano provided an ample lift as University of the Philippines got back at Adamson on Wednesday, 70-66 for its second straight victory in the UAAP Season 79 men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Gomez Di Liano pumped in 10 of his career-high 13 points in the second half, while top guns Paul Desiderio and Jett Manuel knocked down a pair of clutch buckets down the stretch, enabling the Fighting Maroons to foil the Soaring’ Falcons late rally.
The victory came on the heels of its equally stunning 56-52 victory against Ateneo over the weekend, enabling UP to improve its record to 3-6.
Adamson suffered its second straight loss for a 4-5 mark.
“It’s just everybody contributing, from the starters to our bench,” said a visibly pleased UP coach Bo Perasol, adding the Fighting Maroons’ sustained defensive pressure, notably on Soaring Falcons prized rookie Jerrick Ahanmisi, which proved to be the main key.
Ahanmisi, who came into the game averaging 17.3 points, laid a big fat egg in 25 minutes of play, attempting just twice while accounting for three of Adamson’s 17 turnovers.
“But in the end it was our defense that made it happen for us. We were able to frustrate their shooters and take away big points from their usual scorers,” said Perasol.
While Gomez De Liano provided the spark off the bench, Manuel and Desiderio came through with their 16 markers each, highlighted by a pair of timely hits inside the final minute that helped the Fighting Maroons douse cold water on the Soaring Falcons, who pulled within 61-65 after trailing by as many as 11 points.
“We were able to get that composure back again in the end. They threatened to rally but the boys held their ground,” said Perasol.
Cameroon import Papi Sarr finished with a double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds while guard Robbie Manalang added 10 markers, including a big triple to cut their deficit down to four, but the Soaring Falcons sorely missed the usual offensive brilliance of Ahanmisi. – Jerome Lagunzad
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UP (70) – Desiderio 16, Manuel 16, De Liano 13, Moralde 5, Harris 4, Lim 4, Romero 4, Vito 4, Prado 2, Webb 2, Asilum 0, Dario 0, Espanola 0, Jaboneta 0, Lao 0, Longa 0.
ADU (66) – Sarr 18, Manalang 10, Ochea 8, Paranada 8, Manganti 6, Ng 5, Espeleta 4, Pasturan 3, Camacho 2, Mustre 2, Ahanmisi 0, Bernardo 0.
Quarterscores: 9-20, 29-30, 50-44, 70-66