The University of the Philippines had to battle back from as much as 13 points down, but ultimately pulled off a 84-77 come from behind victory versus Vanguard University, in the semifinals of the 2019 Buddha’s Light International Association (BLIA) Cup, Saturday in Taiwan.
Bright Akhuetie put the Fighting Maroons on his shoulders with 26 points, 13 rebounds, two steals, a block, and an assist.
When it mattered most, he was backstopped by Kobe Paras whose booming triple and thunderous throwdown bookended Philippine State U's 10-3 run in the last two minutes to complete the comeback.
In the end, Paras wound up with 15 points and five rebounds while rookie guard Jaybie Mantilla and veteran wing Javi Gomez de Liano also added 11 and 10 markers, respectively.
With the win, UP advances to the championship round of the regional tournament. The last time Filipinos won the title was back in 2017 with De La Salle University.
The Fighting Maroons now await the winner between Huaquiao University and Chien Hsin University of Science and Technology.
UP 84 – Akhuetie 26, Paras 15, Mantilla 11, Gomez de Liano 10, Manzo 9, Murrell 7, Webb 3, Tungcab 3, Spencer 0, Gob 0, Jaboneta 0.
VU 77 – Wilson 14, Tolmaire 13, Gentry 13, Hayward 10, Magee 10, Moore 7, Mohammadi 5, Scherer 3, St. Leon 2, Willis 0.
QUARTER SCORES: 17-24, 34-47, 58-59, 84-77.
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