University of the Philippines (UP) has developed a nasty habit of lagging early in games. And the Fighting Maroons want to remedy that the soonest.
For the second straight game, UP had to frantically chase down its foe, coming from behind to wear down Adamson in overtime, 87-78, on Wednesday in the UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball tournament at PhilSports Arena.
“We started out flat, same as last game. I guess playing catch up or not, what’s important is what we get from it,’’ said UP head coach Goldwyn Monteverde.
Zavier Lucero and wingman Cyril Gonzales were instrumental in climbing out of holes 16 points deep while Terrence Fortea, Harold Alarcon and Carl Tamayo provided help as the Maroons eventually took the driver’s seat in the waning minutes.
Now two wins into a season where they are the defending champions for the first time in three and a half decades, the Maroons shift their focus on jumping out of the gates.
“As much as possible we don’t want a slow start. What we want to achieve is to start strong and sustain it until the end. We just have to figure it out as the season progresses,’’ said Monteverde.
University of the East (UE), meanwhile, finally figured things out.
And the Warriors celebrated like Kings in an earlier match.
UE turned back Far Eastern U, 76-66, ending a long, frustrating slide of 15 straight games dating back to the past two seasons.
“We celebrated after the game like we won the championship. We’ve already reached the bottom; there’s no way to go but up,’’ said UE coach Jack Santiago.
Playmaker Kyle Paranada was responsible for the infusion of optimism within the UE camp as he went to town by firing five threes and finishing 25 points for the Warriors.
“This is our first win in two seasons. The past is the past and you cannot do anything about it. You just have to think about the future. The win will provide the momentum that we need in our next game,’’ said Paranada.
Patrick Sleat had 15 points and Cholo Anonuevo added 10 for the winless Tamaraws, who battled back from 20 points down in the third only to squander their efforts in the end for a second straight defeat.
The Maroons also blew a chance to end it in regulation when they surrendered a foul on a three-point shooting JM Sabandal.
Sabandal, with just a tenth of a second left on the clock, cooly sank his three free throws, triggering the first overtime encounter of the season.
Jerom Lastimosa erupted for a career-high 25 points, but was mostly shadowed down the crucial stretch to the frustration of the Falcons, who dropped to 0-2 (win-loss).
“We focused on Lastimosa defensively. We knew that they will go to him in the endgame,’’ said Monteverde.
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