Furious UP finish kicks UST out of Final Four race

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A strong second half showing propelled the University of the Philippines past UST, 83-69, as they strengthened their bid to book the last Final Four ticket on Saturday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

The Tigers started out strong and held a 10-point lead, 36-26, midway through the second period before CJ Cansino was stretchered out with an undisclosed left leg injury.

His exit paved the way for UP to mount a 16-2 run as they took a 42-38 lead after two quarters.

In the second half, the Maroons buried five treys (with four coming in the second half) and behind a 13-point fourth quarter explosion from Bright Akhuetie, the Diliman-based squad cruised to its seventh win this season.

They’re primed to finish with their best record since 2004, where UP finished with an even 7-7 win-loss card.

Akhuetie posted a massive 25-point, 18-rebound double-double, while Paul Desiderio played his best all-around game this season with 19 points, seven rebounds, four assists and a steal.

Marvin Lee and Renzo Subido picked up the slack for the injured Cansino. Lee put up 10 of his 26 points in the payoff period and knocked down seven threes, while Subido still finished with 22 poitns despite a scoreless fourth quarter.

The loss effectively eliminates UST from Final Four contention. They fell to 5-8 in the standings.

UP, on the other hand, is still vying for that last slot against FEU, who’ll be facing National University tomorrow.

UP (83) – Akhuetie 25, Desiderio 19, Gomez de Liano Juan 11, Jaboneta 9, Murrell 6, Manzo 5, Prado, Vito 3, Gomez de Liano Javi 2, Lim 0, Tungcab 0, Spencer 0, Espanola 0, Gozum 0, Longa 0.

UST (69) – Lee 26, Subido 22, Bataller 7, Mahinay 4, Marcos 3, Huang 2, Enrique 2, Cansino 2, Zamora 1, Agustin 0, Bonleon II 0.

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