MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – University of the Philippines opened the second round of eliminations on a positive note as they weathered Adamson University's fightback, 89-84, in the men's basketball tournament of UAAP Season 78 on Saturday, October 10 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Henry Asilum topscored for the Fighting Maroons with 19 points, including 10 in the third. Co-captain Jett Manuel made 5 of his 9 field goals for 16 points and 8 rebounds to break out of his offensive slump.
Guard Diego Dario contributed 14 points, 5 assists and two steals while Agustini Amar had 13 points as UP snapped its 5-game losing skid.
"This game is really a collective effort. We came together finally end our 5-game losing streak," head coach Rensy Bajar said in Filipino, whose team had an overnight Manila team building prior to this game to try and work out their issues. "Sarap (It feels good)."
The Maroons led by as much as 15 with under 8 minutes remaining but had to stave off a solid comeback from the Soaring Falcons, which came to within 78-74 on a JD Tungcab triple with over 3 minutes to play.
Momentum swung back to the side of UP with an unsportsmanlike foul called on Adamson's Harold Ng for pinching his opponent in the ensuing play. Both sides committed sloppy fouls from that point on and the Maroons managed to create some cushion, 84-76, on Manuel's pull-up jumper with 90 seconds to go.
But as Adamson refused to give up as import Pape Sarr cut the deficit to 86-83 with 23.8 ticks left.
Dario responded with a pair of free throws, 88-83, to seal the win for UP and improve to a 3-5 record.
"Coach told us prior to this game to forget about the first round," said Dario as UP slumped in round one after a 2-0 start to the season. "That’s over. Focus on the right things we need to do in the second round. We got the first win so 6 games more."
Sarr had a double-double of 18 points and 17 rebounds for Adamson, which sank to 1-7. Jerome Garcia added 12 points on 3 triples and 4 assists while Alvin Margallo finished with 11.
Physicality marred the game, especially the final 5 minutes, as players from both sides fought for every possession that ultimately amounted to 61 total fouls from the two teams all game long.
But Garcia and UP coach Bajar had a brief run-in along the sidelines when Garcia inadvertently bumped into Bajar as the former chased a Maroon with 12.9 seconds left on the clock.
"We just got emotional with the players," Bajar brushed off the encounter where UP assistant coach Allan Gregorio led Garcia back to the Adamson bench.
UP clamped down defensively from the second quarter and ultimately stymied Adamson's offense in the third period, where the Maroons first erected a 15-point advantage.
The game was generally sloppy with the Falcons committing 33 turnovers while the Maroons had 19. Adamson lost the game despite out-rebounding their foes, 57-31, and having 45 attempts from the free throw line – of which they made 33. They also shot poorly from the field at just 32% while UP was 41%.
UP (89): Asilum 19, Manuel 16, Dario 14, Amar 13, Desiderio 8, Longa 8, Juruena 7, Harris 2, Moralde 2, Jaboneta 0, Kone 0, Lim 0, Vito 0.
Adamson (84): Sarr 18, Garcia 12, Margallo 11, Nalos 8, Ng 8, Capote 7, Escalambre 5, Garcia 5, Polican 3, Ochea 2, Camacho 0.
Quarter scores: 19-16, 44-36, 68-56, 89-84.