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UAAP: UP Fighting Maroons looks to end Finals

by Bryan Gadingan

THE UP Fighting Maroons will try to end the series and bring home their second UAAP Men’s Basketball championship in three years when Game 2 of the highly anticipated UAAP Men’s Basketball Finals takes place at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, tomorrow.

Game 1 started close until UP buckled on their defense and put the pedal on their offense to mightily beat the DLSU Green Archers, 97-67.

The win also ended DLSU’s nine-game winning streak and made it one of the most one-sided games in UAAP history.  

The Katipunan team put on a defensive masterclass throughout the game, shutting down most of the Green Archers’ usual scorers. The Fighting Maroons, on the other hand, were headed by Harold Alarcon and Francis Lopez’s excellent offensive performance. 

Alarcon finished with 21 points after being consistent throughout the game. Meanwhile, Lopez went on a 9-point third-quarter personal run to extend the margin. He finished the game with 15 points and 11 rebounds.

Despite making a statement about how good the UP squad is by blowing away DLSU, Fighting Maroons head coach Goldwin Monteverde knows that the season is far from done and that they must not let the win get in their heads as they focus on the next game.

“The team really executed the game plan a while ago, and defense was really great,” Monteverde said. “We just have to sustain and know that the Finals will not be won with one game, but it’s a series. Dapat we have to know what to work on and be ready for the next game.” 

Fourth championship on the way!

Photo Courtesy: UAAP Media Group

In recent years, the UP Fighting Maroons have gradually moved away from their gloomy days, when the university found itself at the bottom of the elimination round standings, with not a single victory on the season.

Since joining the UAAP, the Fighting Maroons have only won three championships. UP first won the league title in 1939-1940, sharing it with Far Eastern University (FEU) and the University of Santo Tomas (UST).

Under the supervision of Joe Lipa, the triad of Eric Altamirano, Ronnie Magsanoc, and Benjie Paras won UP’s second title in 1986 by defeating the then-powerhouse University of the East Red Warriors. 

When the UAAP made its reappearance following the pandemic in Season 84, the Fighting Maroons won their third championship. This was due to JD Cagulangan’s heroics, who hit the dagger step back three to capture the championship from the Ateneo Blue Eagles.

This year, and if the Fighting Maroons win on Sunday, it will be the university’s fourth UAAP men’s basketball championship. A sweet way to bounceback from their Season 85 loss against the Ateneo Blue Eagles.

TAFT times for the Green Archers

The Green Archers were bursting with confidence heading into their Finals match against the Fighting Maroons, having swept the second round of eliminations and knocked out the NU Bulldogs in a blowout.

Photo Courtesy: UAAP Media Group

However, their nine-game winning streak was snapped last Wednesday by the top-seeded UP in a thrashing. The DLSU’s confidence vanished during their first game, which was uncharacteristic of the Green Archers club we saw all season.

“Well obviously, UP just showed us why they’re the number one team in the UAAP right now. At this point we cannot look for other more excuses than to really bounceback come Sunday,” DLSU’s first-year head coach Topex Robinson said of the team’s disappointing setback.

MVP Kevin Quiambao and Evan Nelle were both battling to make a basket for their club, which was unusual for them. Michael Phillips, who finished with 19 points and nine rebounds, was the sole bright spot for DLSU in the contest.

“Our streak started from a loss, we’re going to try to do the same thing as much as we can. You got to give credit to UP, they played a great game. Everyone was physical, they really want it, they wanted it more than us. That’s something that we can really take as motivation,” stated the big guy Phillips.

Despite being hit with reality, the DLSU Green Archers are expected to rebound in their must-win game this Sunday, 4:00 p.m. UAAP fans may expect a dogfight given that both sides are fired up for this matchup.

The greater concern is whether the DLSU Green Archers will be able to extend this series and play a rubber match on December 6th, or will the UP Fighting Maroons eventually complete their revenge season and win their fourth championship? Don’t look now, but UAAP Finals Game 2 will undoubtedly be one for the books.

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