UAAP Finals: UP sends strong message for Game 2 after roughing up La Salle in opener

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UP Fighting Maroons’ Malick Diouf and Francis Lopez in the UAAP men’s basketball Finals Game 1. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

University of the Philippines (UP) whipped La Salle, 97-67, in the UAAP men’s basketball finals on Wednesday. That did the job for Game 1.

The Maroons also threw a little early extra work for Game 2, beating up the Archers so badly at Mall of Asia Arena, that it left everyone wondering how their Taft-based foes will get up.

“We will just keep doing what our coaches tell us to do [in Game 2],” Harold Alarcon, who led UP with 21 points, said after the game. “That’s what we did today. We followed the game plan and you all saw the result.”

If that Game 2 strategy is as good as it was on Wednesday, UP could end up lighting up Diliman.

The Maroons were so good, they were better in almost all departments. They shot better, making 40.1 percent of their field goals compared to 38.6 for the Archers. UP also had 55 rebounds against La Salle’s 45. And, perhaps most crucially, the Maroons turned the ball over only seven times against the Archers’ 18, leading into a 24-2 advantage in points off errors.

History’s warning

UP rookie Francis Lopez hangs on the rim during Game 1 of the UAAP Season 86 men's basketball Finals against La Salle.–MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

UP rookie Francis Lopez hangs on the rim during Game 1 of the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball Finals against La Salle.–MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

UP was so good, the only thing they had to worry about at the final buzzer was a piece of history.

“Last season, we won Game 1 [against Ateneo] but we lost Game 2 and Game 3,” warned guard JD Cagulangan.

UP coach Goldwin Monteverde agreed.

“We … know that the Finals will not be won with one game,” he said. “It’s a series. “We have to know what to work on and be ready for the next game.”

Up by just four at the end of the first quarter, UP tore the game wide open in the second period and just kept building on the lead from that point by limiting the league’s best offense to a sputtering performance.“The defense was really great,” Monteverde said, as the breakaway allowed the Maroons the luxury of sharpening their mental focus for Game 2.

“When we were up 20, [the veterans] huddled the team and said we needed to stay level,” Cagulangan said. “That’s what we need to do [in the next game], we still need to give 100 percent in Game 2.”

Francis Lopez added 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Maroons.

Kevin Quiambao, La Salle’s do-it-all forward who topped the season’s Most Valuable Player race, finished with just 11 points on a pedestrian four-of-10 shooting from the field. He also added six rebounds and three assists. Quiambao made just one of four three-pointers while the entire La Salle squad was just two-of-23 from behind the arc.

Mike Phillips led the Archers with 19 points and nine rebounds.

“UP just showed us why they’re the No. 1 team in the UAAP right now. At this point, we really can’t look for other excuses but [we have to] bounce back,” said La Salle coach Topex Robinson.

Game 2 is scheduled on Sunday.

“Hopefully, that would be my last game,” said graduating UP skipper CJ Cansino after watching his team forge the most lopsided Finals margin in 25 years.

UST’s breakthrough

Meanwhile, the University of Santo Tomas (UST) moved within another win of ending the National University’s (NU) seven-year reign in the UAAP women’s basketball.

The Golden Tigresses’ 76-72 win against the Bulldogs also ended a 20-game losing streak against NU.

“So happy that finally we got a win against NU, which is the most important because this is the championship series,” UST coach Haydee Ong said. “Thank you to the girls [who] really worked hard for this [as well as] the whole team.

“Until the last second where NU could’ve come back, [the Tigresses] kept their composure.”

That composure manufactured 16 steals and 27 points off turnovers for UST before holding off any last ditch efforts by NU in the stretch.

Kent Pastrana’s 15 points, six rebounds and four steals and Ana Tacatac’s 14 points and two steals while Brigette Santos and Nikki Villasin combined for 22 points in leading the Tigresses.



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Game 2 of this series is also on Sunday.





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