UP suffers another winless season
MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE 3) The University of the East (UE) Red Warriors squandered a double-digit lead but managed to escape with a heart-stopping 76-73 victory over the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons in their final game of the UAAP Season 76 men's basketball tournament.
Graduating guard Lord Casajeros scored 17 points and came up with the biggest plays in crunch time as the Red Warriors finished the season with a 7-7 win-loss record, their best finish since 2009. Big man Charles Mammie scored 21 points and grabbed 18 boards.
UE led by as much as 16 points in the third quarter, but UP outscored them 17-2 in the first eight minutes of the fourth to take a 72-68 lead with two minutes to go.
Sam Marata drilled a triple that tied the game at 68, before Raul Soyud scored four straight points that gave UP the lead for the first time since the first quarter.
But Casajeros drilled a triple at the 1:36 mark that tied the game at 73, then made a pass to Adrian Santos for the go-ahead basket that made it 75-73 with 24.7 seconds to go.
UP still had chances to win the game, but Soyud missed a potential game-winning triple out of a timeout. After a Casajeros free throw made it a three-point game, Soyud hit front-iron on another three-pointer that could have tied the game.
The Fighting Maroons wrapped up another winless season, having gone 0-14 in 2007 and 2010 as well.
It seemed as though the Red Warriors were cruising to victory as they led by as much as 16 points, 63-47, in the third quarter, behind an array of shots from Ralf Olivares. UP rookie Kyles Lao kept the Maroons within striking distance as he scored eight points in the frame, including two free throws in the last 2.5 seconds.
But they came up short in crunch time, failing to make the necessary stops against a UE team that played without injured star guard Roi Sumang.
UE head coach Boycie Zamar, who took over the Red Warriors halfway through Season 75, noted that his team finished just outside the Final Four.
"We were one game away from the playoff, and two wins away from the Final Four," he said. "Na-hurt kami siyempre with Olivares out, Charles Mammie out, si Casajeros. Nakita naman natin kung gaano ka sila ka-importante."
Olivares, Mammie and Casajeros were all handed suspensions during the season, which clearly took its toll on the Red Warriors' campaign.
The Maroons raced to an early 10-5 lead thanks to Marata, who hit a couple of tough jumpers early in the first quarter.
But the Red Warriors were energized by the insertion of reserve guards Olivares and Gino Jumao-as, who sparked a 5-0 run that allowed UE to tie the game. The two squads exchanged leads for the rest of the frame, before a lay-up by Chris Javier gave UE a 20-19 lead with 40 seconds to go.
The Red Warriors stretched the lead to as much as 11 point in the second quarter, 36-25, as Mammie asserted his dominance inside the paint for easy buckets.
Only jumpers from Marata kept UE from completely pulling away, but his 14 first half points were not enough as the Maroons entered halftime down by 10, 34-44.
Marata wound up scoring a game-high 22 points in his final game for the Fighting Maroons.
UE 76 - Mammie 21, Casajeros 17, Olivares 12, Jumao-as 9, Alberto 7, Santos 6, Javier 4, Sumido 0, Pujante 0, Noble 0, Hernandez 0, Guion 0, Galanza 0
UP 73 - Marata 22, Soyud 15, Lao 10, Suarez 6, Ligad 5, Gallarza 4, Asilum 3, Wong 2, Harris 2, Ball 2, Gingerich 1, Amar 1, Paras 0, Desidero 0
Quarter-scores: 20-19, 44-34, 66-55, 76-73