By Randolph B. Leongson, Inquirer.net -
University of the Philippines made sure that the tomorrow’s headlines won’t carry the same old story.
The Fighting Maroons survived a late scare from University of the East to score a 62-55 opening day win Saturday in the UAAP Season 78 men’s basketball tournament at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Dave Moralde got the lucky bounce on his second free throw attempt while Jerson Prado made clutch charities to put the game away for UP as it ushered in the new season with a scintillating victory.
But the star of the night was Gelo Vito, who struck in the fourth quarter and nailed three three-pointers to turn a close 45-41 game to a 56-43 spread with 4:37 left.
The former La Salle Greenhills bigman finished with 11 points on a perfect 3-of-3 clip from beyond the arc, while Moralde finished with eight markers.
Paul Desiderio and Jett Manuel also chipped in seven points apiece for UP, which matched its output in season 77 where it finished 1-13.
“They must believe that they can win and they’re winners. Down the stretch, that’s what happened on the court, they kept on believing that they’ll win this game,” said new UP coach Rensy Bajar.
Edson Batiller and Chris Javier tried force UE back in the game and got to as close as four, 59-55 with 20.8 ticks left.
But the Fighting Maroons proved to be steadier in the end as they bagged their first opening game win in four years.
Batiller got 17 points to lead the Red Warriors in the losing effort, while Javier got a double-double of 10 markers and 10 rebounds.
UP 62 – Vito 11, Moralde 8, Desiderio 7, Manuel 7, Dario 6, Prado 6, Amar 4, Longa 4, Asilum 3, Kone 3, Juruena 2, Gallarza 1, Harris 0, Lim 0, Webb 0, Jaboneta 0.
UE 55 – Batiller 17, Javier 10, Palma 6, Manalang 5, De Leon 4, Abanto 4, Charcos 2, Gagate 2, Yu 2, Sta. Ana 2, P. Varilla 1, Derige 0, Gonzales 0.
Quarters: 11-7, 29-25, 45-37, 62-55
- Original story from Inquirer.net. Photo by Tristan Tamayo from Inquirer.net