Paul Desiderio delivered a career-high 31 points as the UP Fighting Maroons captured their second straight win after taking down the FEU Tamaraws, 95-82, in UAAP Season 81 men's basketball action Wednesday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Desiderio torched the hoop with seven triples en route to 31 points, to go with four assists and two steals. He knocked down all six of his attempts from three-point land in the opening frame to help the Fighting Maroons dictate the pace.
After notching a historic triple-double in their previous game, Juan Gomez De Liaño came close to repeating the feat as he finished with 19 points, ten rebounds, nine assists, and two steals.
Bright Akhuetie also filled the stat sheet, tallying 20 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists, and two blocks in the victory that improved the Fighting Maroons' record to 5-5.
"This is a big win for us, not only as far as the standing is concerned but as far as us fighting through the middle of it, grinding it out, looking for ways how we can hold off the runs of FEU," said UP head coach Bo Perasol.
Despite missing two big men in Arvin Tolentino and Prince Orizu, the Tamaraws kept fighting and even tried to match the Fighting Maroons' strong start. But towards the end of the third quarter, they found themselves buried in a 16-point hole.
Richard Escoto hit a pair of free throws to make it a nine-point ballgame, 86-77, at the 3:27 mark of the fourth, but that was the closest that FEU reached. Gomez De Liaño and Akhuetie immediately responded with foul shots of their own to bring UP's lead back up to double-digits.
Six players scored in double-figures for the skidding Tamaraws, who suffered their third consecutive loss and dropped to a 5-5 slate, but their balanced attack was not enough to overcome the Fighting Maroons.
Brandey Bienes topped with 14 points and five rebounds, while Kevin Eboña contributed 13 points and eight rebounds.
UP (95) - Desiderio 31, Akhuetie 20, Gomez de Liaño Ju. 19, Manzo 11, Dario 6, Gomez de Liaño Ja. 4, Jaboneta 2, Gozum 2, Vito 0, Murrell 0, Lim 0, Prado 0.
FEU (82) - Bienes 14, Eboña 13, Comboy 12, Cani 11, Iñigo 10, Escoto 10, Ramirez 5, Stockton 3, Parker 2, Tuffin 2.
Quarterscores: 37-30, 54-43, 78-65, 95-82
- Arvin Tolentino missed his second straight game due to suspension while Prince Orizu was sidelined due to a high ankle sprain.
- The Fighting Maroons' 95-point output is their highest this season. Their 27 assists are the most by any team this season.
- Juan Gomez De Liaño averaged 17.0 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 10.5 assists in UP's last two wins.
FEU - October 27 (Sat) vs La Salle Green Archers at Smart-Araneta Coliseum
UP - October 28 (Sun) vs Adamson Soaring Falcons at FilOil Flying V Centre