Maroons keep Final Four hopes alive in thriller

Mark Escarlote on Mar 30, 2016 01:49 PM
Maroons keep Final Four hopes alive in thriller
University of the Philippines snatched a five-set match win against Far Eastern University to keep their semis bid alive.

University of the Philippines flirted with disaster in the fifth set after squandering a four-point lead before hanging tough in the closing stretch to squeeze out a marathon, 21-25, 27-25, 25-21, 21-25, 16-14, win over Far Eastern University to keep its Final Four seat bid alive in the 78th UAAP men’s volleyball tournament at The Arena in San Juan on Wednesday.

Skipper Alfred Valbuena played the hero’s role scoring a game-high 26 points including the match-clinching kill block against Jeric Gacutan to seal the two-hour, 8-minute tussle for a 6-6 record tied with their victim.     

“Overall, masaya naman ako na nakuha namin ang panalo. Sinasabi ko nga (sa kanila) na pipilitin naming makuha ito para makarating kami sa Final Four,” said UP head coach Rod Palmero.

“Kasi kung tinalo nila kami ngayon medyo malabo na talaga kami kasi sila ang kalaban namin sa No. 4,” he added.

But the Maroons are still far from reaching their goal of barging in the Final Four for the first time since their last appearance in Season 73.  UP needs to sweep their last two assignments against University of Sto. Tomas (4-8) and Adamson (8-3) to at least secure a Final Four seat playoff.

Valbuena had 21 attacks, three service aces and a pair of blocks, none bigger than his denial on Gacutan off a combination play, while helping on their floor defense with six digs. Wendel Miguel scored 19 and had 12 perfect receptions for the Diliman-based squad.

UP broke a 7-7 tie with four straight points before FEU capitalized on a pair of errors by the Maroons in a 3-0 burst to close the gap. The decider was tied at 14 before Miguel gave UP the match point advantage to pave way to Valbuena’s heroics.

Gacutan finished with 20 points, Jude Garcia had 14 while Greg Dolor and Peter Quiel posted 12 and 11 points, respectively, for the Tams.




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