MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – University of the Philippines ended a 7-year losing streak to Ateneo De Manila University with a big 56-52 upset victory in the second round of the UAAP Season 79 men's basketball tournament on Saturday, October 8 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Fighting Maroons have lost 14 straight games to the Blue Eagles dating back to 2009 prior to the breakthrough win. UP last defeated Ateneo in July 26, 2009, 68-58, according to UAAP statistician Pong Ducanes.
"The main thing that we discussed is that we believe that we are better than 1-6. I really though that if we could have closed out games like we did today, then we could have won a couple more games," said head coach Bo Perasol, who coached Ateneo before moving to UP this season but noted he did not take special pride in beating his former team.
"The added incentive for that, especially for the graduating players, is that we are not going to wait for 7 more years again. The last win was back in 2009. At least with the next teams, we can say that it was not the 2009 team that last won against Ateneo, but it was the 2016 team."
Gelo Vito buried the dagger 3-pointer from the corner with 16.4 seconds left to give UP a 54-50 cushion and keep the rallying Ateneo at bay.
It was Vito's first triple of the entire season and he was one-of-9 from beyond the arc before that made 3, per Ducanes. Vito previously sank a trey from the wing in the fourth but it did not count owing to an offensive foul call on the floor.
"Prior to the game, I was working on my shot," said Vito, who finished with 7 points and 5 rebounds.
UP kept in step with Ateneo for the entire game until they built a 7-point advantage midway in the final frame. The Eagles came to within a point but Vito's big shot salvaged the win.
Team captain Jett Manuel led the Maroons with 15 points and 5 rebounds, while Paul Desiderio registered 9 markers plus 5 boards as well. Christian Moralde and Jarrell Lim tallied 8 points each.
"We gathered as a team yesterday. We all said someone has to step up or everybody has to step up for us to win," Manuel said. "I'm happy that Gelo's here, he stepped up for us big time."
Adrian Wong and Chibueze Ikeh paced the Blue Eagles with 10 markers apiece. Mike Nieto and Raffy Verano both had 9 points as Thirdy Ravena settled for 6 points to go with 9 rebounds.
The victory also signals a good start for UP in the second round after they finished the first with only one win and a 3-game skid. They improved to 2-6.
Ateneo continues to reel from its deflating loss to rival La Salle at the end the first round and fell to a 4-4 slate. – Rappler.com