The UP Fighting Maroons unleashed a huge closing run to complete a come-from-behind win against the Adamson Soaring Falcons, 81-77, in the UAAP Season 82 men's basketball tournament Sunday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
The Fighting Maroons fought back from a 12-point deficit in the last seven minutes to improve their record to 7-4 and solidify their hold of the second spot in the league standings.
"The most important aspect of this, although this is a big win for us, is we need to focus on the next, because this is going to be for naught if we're not going to catch up with the others," said UP coach Bo Perasol.
Kobe Paras led the charge with 21 points and five rebounds. Jun Manzo made key plays down the stretch and finished with 17 points, seven rebounds, and three assists.
The Falcons built a 72-60 lead early in the fourth quarter after a triple from Joem Sabandal. UP launched a 16-2 rally capped by a putback from Manzo to steal the advantage with 2:22 remaining. Manzo also knocked down a clutch 3-point shot in that stretch, followed by Paras' game-tying basket.
Jerom Lastimosa stopped the bleeding for Adamson with a shot from beyond the arc but Paras immediately responded with a 3 of his own to make it 79-77 in the final minute and 25 seconds. Manzo made a crucial steal to stop Adamson's next possession, then Bright Akhuetie sealed the deal with a pair of free throws.
Juan Gomez de Liaño delivered a season-high 15 points, while Akhuetie chipped in a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds on top of six assists.
"Consistency is something that we are really hoping to achieve. I really think that if we can get out there and maximize what we have, we always have a big chance of winning every game, but that's the challenge," said Perasol on their late surge. "We could not predict what's going to happen like we started really bad but we picked up ourselves, we reminded ourselves that this is a very important game, and we responded."
The Falcons' endgame meltdown caused them to fall to 4-7 at sixth place, which made their hunt for a Final Four slot even more challenging.
Val Chauca exploded for 17 points in the first half but was held to only two points in the last two periods. Jerrick Ahanmisi and Simon Camacho contributed 13 and 11 points, respectively.
UP 81 -- Paras 21, Manzo 17, Ju. Gomez de Liano 15, Akhuetie 12, Rivero 7, Ja. Gomez de Liano 5, Tungcab 3, Webb 1, Mantilla 0, Murrell 0, Prado 0, Spencer 0.
ADAMSON 77 -- Chauca 19, Ahanmisi 13, Camacho 11, Lastimosa 9, Manlapaz 5, Douanga 4, Magbuhos 4, Fermin 3, Mojica 3, Sabandal 3, Yerro 3.
Quarters: 11-19, 36-37, 57-66, 81-77.
- When UP made its 21-5 closing run, Jun Manzo scored or assisted 11 of the 21 points, according to UAAP chief statistician Pong Ducanes.
- Adamson's Lenda Douanga was limited to just four points in the loss but he did account for 13 of his team's 52 rebounds.
- After starting the season with a 3-2 slate, the Falcons have now lost six of their last seven games.
UP - October 23 (Wednesday) vs NU at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum
Adamson - October 23 (Wednesday) vs FEU at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum