Paul Desiderio waxed hot in the pivotal third quarter as University of the Philippines (UP) bounced back in a resounding way at the expense of University of the East (UE), 84-71, in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 80 men’s basketball tournament on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Desiderio drained four triples as the veteran guard poured 16 points in the third frame, wherein the Fighting Maroons outgunned the Red Warriors, 26-7, en route to their second win in three games.
The State U’s skipper found his rhythm after poor performances in the previous outings as he finished with a career-high 28 points on top of 10 rebounds.
”We’re losing a lot when he (Desiderio) is not getting his regular game. What a time to get his game back. This was an all-important game for us,” said UP head coach Bo Perasol.
The Diliman-based cagers also picked themselves up from a demoralizing 71-92 defeat to Ateneo de Manila University in the first “Battle of Katipunan” this season.
“Going into this game, I was worried about the state of mind we had after that very bad loss against Ateneo. What we emphasized during practice was that we had to let go whatever is bothering our minds,” said Perasol.
Ibrahim Quattara chipped in a double-double of 14 points and 18 rebounds in 25 minutes of action off the bench while Jun Manzo contributed 10 markers for the Maroons, who erased a 16-point deficit in the first quarter.
“We’re just happy that we’re able to get through this game against a tough opening by UE. We were able to bounce back despite the fact that we were outplayed and outhusled in the first minutes of the game,” beamed the Maroons’ sophomore mentor.
Clark Derige came through with another impressive showing, scoring a team-best 21 points, while Mark Maloles added 16 markers as the Red Warriors’ woes continued with their third straight setback to start the season.
The men of Derrick Pumaren blew a 16-point lead in the first period and a slim cushion at the half.
Waxing hot in the early goings, the Red Warriors unloaded three triples as they raced to a 17-4 run for a huge 23-7 spread.
Javi Gomez De Liaño completed a four-point play to punctuate a 16-6 exchange and steal the lead for UP, 34-33, but UE retaliated to reclaim the upperhand at halftime, 42-38.
Desiderio caught fire in the third frame, scattering away 16 points anchored on four treys as the Maroons snagged a 64-49 lead entering the payoff period.
UP put up a 13-5 rally on Desiderio’s layup with 4:54 remaining in the game for a comfortable 77-54 advantage to practically seal the bounce-back win.