A huge second half catapulted the UP Fighting Maroons into the final of the 2019 Buddha's Light International Association (BLIA) Cup, defeating Vanguard University, 84-77, Saturday in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
Bright Akhuetie had a huge double-double of 26 points and 13 rebounds to lead UP.
Down by 13 points at the break, the Fighting Maroons found their rhythm in the second half. They unloaded 50 points in the last two quarters, including a 24-12 third period advantage to get back into the ball game.
UP claimed the lead, 75-74, with 1:48 remaining courtesy of a pair of free throws by Kobe Paras.
After two more shots at the line by Jun Manzo, Javi Gomez De Liaño gave the Fighting Maroons cushion with a short stab in the paint, pushing the lead to 79-74 with 49.5 seconds left. Paras put the exclamation point with a slam to make it a three-possession ball game with 30 seconds left.
Paras finished with 15 points and five rebounds.
UP will take on the winner of the game between Huaqiao University and Chien Hsin University of Science and Technology in the final.
The NU Lady Bulldogs meanwhile finished their campaign on a strong note, winning their last two outings to end up as fifth place in the tournament.
After two tough losses, the reigning UAAP champions got a win on Friday as they scored a 92-81 victory against National Taiwan Normal University. Despite the win, they failed to advance to semifinals.
In the battle for fifth place, they defeated Canada's Humber College, 85-69, on Saturday.