Vito catches fire as Fighting Maroons open new season with win

Paul Lintag on Sep 05, 2015 05:41 PM
Vito catches fire as Fighting Maroons open UAAP 78 with win
ROUSING WIN. There may be no bonfires to celebrate this win but the UP Fighting Maroons score a sensational opening-day victory thanks to defense and Gelo Vito's surprise outside touch.

For a while, it looked like the UE Red Warriors were closing in on the UP Fighting Maroons midway through the fourth period, Gelo Vito had none of it.

Vito fired three straight triples as hosts UP scored a sensational 62-55 victory over UE to open UAAP Season 78 at the Araneta Coliseum, Saturday.

Up by only four, 45-41, after a Chris Javier jumper, Vito scored two straight from deep to re-establish a 10-point UP lead with a little over six minutes to go. The veteran big man, who finished with a team-high 11 points off the bench, then banked in another one less than two minutes later to give the Maroons a commanding 56-43 lead they never surrendered.

It was just cruise control from then on even despite a late Warriors push led by Edson Batiller. "Lagi ko sinasabi na you [players] have to believe that you can win and down the stretch 'yun nga ang nangyari, 'yun ang naging resulta nanalo tayo," UP head coach Rensy Bajar said after the Maroons won their opening game for the first time since Season 74.

The Warriors had one last challenge and cut the UP lead to four, 59-55, with 20 seconds to go but the Maroons secured the win from the charity stripe.

The game started off a little sloppy as both teams only managed a combined 18 points in the first 10 minutes. Offense picked up for the Maroons in the second period led by Paul Desiderio but UE made a game out of it and bounced back in the last four minutes as UP took a 29-25 lead at the half.

Dave Moralde added eight points for UP while Batiller led the Red Warriors with a game-high 17.

Box scores:

UP 62 - Vito 11, Moralde 8, Desiderio 7, Manuel 7, Dario 6, Prado 6, Amar 4, Longa 4, Asilum 3, Kone 3, Juruena 2, Gallarza 1.

UE 55 - Batiller 17, Javier 10, Palma 6, Manalang 5, De Leon 4, Abanto 4, Charcos 2, Gagate 2, Yu 2, Sta. Ana 2, Varilla 1.

Quarter scores: 11-7, 29-25, 45-37, 62-55.

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