Sat. Jul 20th, 2024

Francis Lopez.–MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.web

For the third straight season, the College of the Philippines (UP) may have a shot on the UAAP crown. This time, the Maroons rid themselves of a well-known Finals thorn.

UP ended Ateneo’s reign as champion, with Francis Lopez delivering daggers down the stretch of a 57-46 victory on Saturday within the Season 86 males’s basketball Ultimate 4 at Sensible Araneta Coliseum.

“We’re simply gonna proceed to battle and battle till we get what we would like which is the championship,” stated the rookie Lopez after chipping in 12 factors and 10 rebounds.

The Maroons, champions after beating Ateneo two seasons in the past earlier than shedding the title to the Eagles final season, will face La Salle within the Finals, after the Inexperienced Archers held off Nationwide U, 97-73, within the different recreation.

Mark Nonoy spearheaded a spirited second-quarter by the Inexperienced Archers, who ran their approach to a 45-36 lead on the break after which tore the sport broad open within the third to arrange the primary UP-La Salle title showdown within the UAAP.

Nonoy completed with 20 factors to steer the Archers whereas Kevin Quiambao, the main Most Invaluable Participant candidate, added 17.

Ateneo’s title protection seemed good for 2 quarters of a low-scoring recreation, with the Eagles up three on the half.

“Each groups fought, the rating says all of it,” stated UP assistant coach Christian Luanzon. “The primary half [score] was 25-22 (Ateneo lead), that’s a one quarter rating. Each groups got here ready, particularly on the defensive finish.”

“Each groups additionally struggled offensively. [The Maroons] bought it going within the third quarter, however greater than that, they simply fought exhausting and didn’t let go till the tip. Hats off to all of the gamers,” Luanzon added as UP ended Ateneo’s consecutive Finals look at six, courting again to Season 79 in 2016.

UP and Ateneo break up their elimination matchups with the defending champions outlasting UP, 99-89, of their first assembly. The Maroons bought again towards the Blue Eagles with a 65-60 triumph within the second spherical.

The Blue Eagles’ final lead evaporated after a Sean Torculas triple gave UP a 36-34 lead within the third quarter. Gerry Abadiano and Janjan Felicilda helped the Maroons stretch that benefit to 51-42.

UP fed that cushion with a 15-9 scoring run within the payoff interval and the Eagles had no reply within the stretch.

‘Very downcast gamers’

“UP was a greater crew right now,” stated Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin.

“UP was a greater crew this season [and] they’ll go on and contest the finals. However for us, we actually consider that we [could] win this recreation and [because of] not successful it, there’s plenty of emotion within the dugout, there’s plenty of very downcast gamers, they’re damage. They usually’re actually feeling the ache. And also you don’t really feel that in case you haven’t invested,” he added.

Malick Diouf completed with 12 factors, 16 rebounds, three steals and three blocks for UP, however the reigning Most Invaluable Participant credited the remainder of the crew for the win.

“It’s a crew effort, not solely me, everyone was working exhausting and we ready nicely for Ateneo and I’m actually pleased proper now,” Diouf stated.

The Maroons definitely wanted all fingers on deck defensively as they held the Eagles to underneath 50 factors.

“If there may be one phrase to explain the best way coach Tab has designed [Ateneo’s] tradition offensively, it’s fluid. [The Blue Eagles] all the time appear to seek out the most effective shot accessible,” Luanzon went on. “We by no means underestimated the potential of [Ateneo] as a result of they’ve been champions for what number of seasons already underneath coach Tab.

“That’s what we emphasised, attempt to not give Ateneo clear seems on the basket. That was key for us [with] everyone being in sync all all through the 4 quarters.”

UP had an amazing 60-43 benefit on rebounds, together with 20 from the offensive glass.

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“Coaches speak about consistency and I consider from a defensive standpoint that is in all probability probably the most constant fourth quarter recreation of us. Couldn’t have come at a greater time,” Luanzon stated.

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