By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons put on a flawless display of basketball against the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers, 96-67, in their second to the last elimination game of the UAAP Season 84 Men’s Basketball Tournament second round.
UP immediately opened the game with their scorching-hot offense and capitalized on the loose interior defense of the Growling Tigers.
The one-two punch of Ricci Rivero and CJ Cansino then sparked the Fighting Maroons’ offensive party as they got to the basket several times to help UP establish an early double-digit lead.
Aside from their high percentage offense, the Fighting Maroons also found success in their defensive schemes and forced several UST turnovers that were converted into points at the other end.
“Ever since nung talo namin sa Adamson, nagamit namin to improve especially yung team game naming. Yung defense namin awhile ago was doing really good din from the start,” said UP head coach Goldwin Monteverde.
UST tried to keep up with UP but their inability to stay consistent with their set plays caused them more problems as the guys in Maroon ballooned their lead to 53-33 at the end of the half.
The Fighting Maroons then held on to their free-flowing offense and built their largest lead to as much as 33 points, 92-59.
Star swingman Zavier Lucero backstopped Rivero and Cansino as he dropped 13 huge points including jaw-dropping acrobatic layups in the final canto.
“Every game, we really prepare for it. We got to really play hard and play our best pa rin every game. Kahit Ateneo or whatever team, nandun pa rin kami to give our best,” added Monteverde.
The Fighting Maroons will have its last elimination game of the second round when they face the undefeated Ateneo Blue Eagles team for the second time and will look to even the season series at 1-1.