Paul Desiderio buried the game-winning triple as University of the Philippines nailed a come-from-behind 59-56 win over Far Eastern University to bolster its Final Four bid in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 80 men’s basketball tournament on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Desiderio sank the go-ahead trey with 1.1 seconds remaining as the Fighting Maroons fought their way back from 12 points down en route to notching their fifth win against six losses for a share of No. 4 with the Tamaraws.
“It (final play) was really for him (Desiderio). We made a decision that even if they (FEU) foul, the last shot would be taken by Paul,” said UP head coach Bo Perasol.
It was the State U’s return to the winning track following back-to-back losses to De La Salle University and University of the East (UE).
Despite shooting just 30 percent from the field, Desiderio came through with a game-high 15 points while Ibrahim Ouattara tallied a huge double-double of 10 markers and 15 boards.
Jasper Parker and Arvin Tolentino chalked 13 and 12 points respectively for the Tamaraws, who dropped to a 5-6 win-loss record.
FEU’s top scorer Ron Dennison was held by Desiderio to jus nine points on a dismal 4-of-13 shooting from the field.
“My mindset is that this was my last matchup with Ron Dennison, so I have to get even with him,” said Desiderio.
Tolentino dropped 11 points, including two straight triples, to trigger a blistering 19-0 surge as FEU posted a 44-33 spread late in the third period.
Jojo Trinidad went for an easy basket to give the host school its largest lead, 49-37, at the start of the final frame.
But the Maroons fired 13 unanswered points while keeping the Tamaraws scoreless for five minutes to snatch the advantage, 56-53, with 38 seconds left.
Parker sank a three-pointer to end FEU’s scoring drought and put the game on a 56-56 deadlock with 32 ticks remaining.
After UP secured the last possession, Desiderio sank the dagger trey over the outstretched arm of Dennison to seal the crucial win.
Earlier, Ateneo De Manila University leaned on a balanced attack to demolish University of the East (UE), 97-73, and clinch a twice-to-beat bonus heading into the Final Four.
Four Blue Eagles finished in double figures while four others chipped in at least seven points as they soared to a seamless 11-0 start to gain one of the two playoff incentives.
Thirdy Ravena paced the leading Ateneo with 17 points on top of eight rebounds and four assists, Jolo Mendoza scored 13 markers while Vince Tolentino and Raffy Verano each added 12 points.
Mark Maloles finished with 20 points on an efficient 9-of-13 shooting while Mark Olayon contributed 15 markers for the Red Warriors, who fell to 3-9.
ATENEO (97)- Ravena 17, Mendoza 13, Tolentino 12, Verano 12, Asistio 9, Porter 9, Nieto Mi. 7, Ikeh 7, Mamuyac 3, Nieto Ma. 2, Go 2, Black 2, Andrade 2, Tio 0, White 0.
UE (73)- Maloles 20, Olayon 15, Pasaol 8, Bartolome 7, Cullar 5, Varilla 5, Acuno 4, Derige 4, Manalang 3, Conner 2, Cruz 0, Toribio 0.
Quarterscores: 21-18; 48-35; 71-52; 97-73
UP (59)- Desiderio 15, Ouattara 10, Manzo 7, Gomez de Liaño Ju. 7, Gomez de Liaño Ja. 6, Lim 6, Vito 5, Lao 2, Jaboneta 1, Webb 0, Prado 0, Dario 0, Ricafort 0, Battad 0, Romero 0.
FEU (56)- Parker 13, Tolentino 12, Dennison 9, Comboy 6, Trinidad 4, Cani 3, Orizu 3, Ramirez 3, Tuffin 2, Eboña 1, Iñigo 0.
Quarterscores: 14-18, 32-25, 37-47, 59-56