Desiderio wins it for UP against fighting UST

Desiderio wins it for UP against fighting UST
HERO. Paul Desiderio only made two of his 11 attempts from threes, but one of those proved to be the difference between UP and UST.

With Paul Desiderio coming back and talented youngsters coming in, University of the Philippines is seen to be as a squad on the rise in the UAAP 80 Men’s Basketball Tournament.

The Fighting Maroons took the first step in that rise on Sunday at the MOA Arena, riding Desiderio’s game-winning three to a 74-73 triumph over competitive University of Sto. Tomas

The hardfought win gets State U off to a strong start in a season wherein they are determined to end an almost two decade-long playoff absence. “Masyadong matagal na yung pagiging passive ng community sa basketball team. I just want to get back the excitement, na every time the community sees their team, they want to cheer no matter what happens,” a relieved head coach Bo Perasol said in his post-game conference.

Desiderio was struggling for majority of the matchup, only converting five of his 19 shots prior to his game-winning three.

With his team down by two with 5.3 ticks to go, however, nobody else but the team captain was taking the shot. “Hindi ko alam how he did it, but during the timeout, he called it. Sabi niya, ’Coach, mananalo tayo. Papasok itong tira na ito,’” Perasol said.

And so he did, and eventually ended as the hero for UP against the Growling Tigers who proved they remain as a tough out. “Alam kong maraming hindi nagbibigay ng tsansa sa UST, pero playing against them, I definitely know they can give anybody their money’s worth,” Perasol said.

UST was actually on its way to a statement win, coming back from behind 11 points in the first half and leading by two in the dying seconds.

Desiderio took it all away from them, however, and had his game-winner go on top of his nine rebounds. “Bago pa mag-start ang season, lagi kong sinasabi na papasok kami sa Final Four. Gusto ko at least first game pa lang, mapakita na naming kaya namin,” he shared.

Noah Webb and super rookie Juan Gomez de Liano also added seven points apiece for the Fighting Maroons.

The Growling Tigers’ gallant stand was fronted by Marvin Lee who had 20 points as well as Steve Akomo who made a good first impression with a 15-point, 14-rebound double-double before fouling out.

They still had a chance to steal the win with 1.4 seconds on the clock after Desiderio’s shot, but Jeepy Faundo’s last gasp heave went around the ring and out.

Nonetheless, it was a moral victory for the boys from Espana who try for a true victory against National University on Wednesday.

BOX SCORES

UP 74 – Desiderio 17, Vito 9, Webb 7, Gomez de Liano Ju 7, Manzo 6, Gomez de Liano Ja 6, Ouattara 4, Lim 4, Prado 4, Dario 4, Lao 4, Romero 2, Harris 0

UST 73 – Lee 20, Akomo 15, Sta. Ana 11, Soriano 8, Huang 6, Garcia 5, Faundo 4, Arana 2, De Guzman 2, Basibas 0, Caunan 0, Kwawukumey 0, Macasaet 0, Romero 0

QUARTER SCORES: 18-19, 42-33, 57-57, 74-73

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