Led by a rousing performance from Kobe Paras, the UP Fighting Maroons captured the 2019 Buddha's Light International Association (BLIA) Cup championship with a thrilling 97-93 win over Chien Hsin University of Science and Technology in the finals, Sunday in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
Paras was the man of the match, lighting the scoreboard for 37 points, 15 of which came in the fourth quarter to help the Fighting Maroons pull away.
With the game tied at 83 apiece with three and a half minutes remaining, UP flipped the switch and came alive in the waning moments and went on an 11-0 run. Back-to-back baskets by Bright Akhuetie broke the deadlock, followed by a Paras triple on the break. After a basket from Jun Manzo, Paras extended the lead to 94-83 with a dunk.
But the home team did not go down without a fight. Chien Hsin scored eight straight points, capitalizing on UP's turnovers to cut the deficit to just three points with 37.8 seconds on the clock. The Fighting Maroons eventually held on thanks to their defense and free throws from Paras and Jaybie Mantilla.
The Fighting Maroons were in a class of their own, completing a five-game sweep of the tournament. UP is the second Philippine team to win the BLIA Cup after the De La Salle Green Archers won it all in 2017.