UAAP: Akhuetie goes 'Atin 'to' to get UP to winner-take-all vs Adamson

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Nov 24, 2018 06:15 PM
Akhuetie goes 'Atin 'to' to get UP to winner-take-all vs AdU
Bright Akhuetie didn't want captain Paul Desiderio to say goodbye to UP just yet

The University of the Philippines is far from done in making history in the 81st Season of the UAAP Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Paul Desiderio didn’t want to play his last game just yet, Juan Gomez de Liano didn’t want his breakthrough to stop just yet, Bright Akhuetie didn’t want his MVP to be his prize just yet, and the Fighting Maroons took the fight to Adamson University before taking a big-time 73-71 decision on Saturday at the MOA Arena.

Playing its first game in the Final Four since 1997, State U saw Juan GDL take charge from the get-go and then Desiderio turning it on late.

They already had a double-digit lead early in the fourth only to see Sean Manganti and Jerrick Ahanmisi come alive and carry the Soaring Falcons back into the game and into a 69-67 lead with 64 ticks to go on the clock.

Juan GDL tied the tally with two free throws and after a defensive stop, UP put the ball in the hands of its captain.

Desiderio wound up Jerom Lastimosa on the perimeter before willing in a contested jumper.

At the other end, however, Manganti was sent to the line and made good on both free throws to even the score at 71-all.

It was at that point that off a timeout, the Fighting Maroons perfectly executed a play that had Juan GDL lob an inbound right to Akhuetie below the ring.

Freed by his skipper’s screen, the Nigerian powerhouse only converted a short stab that proved to be the difference for their squad in a showdown that featured 10 lead changes and six deadlocks.

In the end, Akhuetie only had six points, the last two of which was the biggest shot of his career, to go along with 14 rebounds, two steals, and two blocks.

Desiderio and Juan GDL chipped in 19 markers each as UP continued its magical run.

The Season MVP not only kept his team alive and kicking in the tournament, but also granted them their first playoff win in 21 years.

For Adamson, Papi Sarr showed the way with 23 points and nine rebounds while Manganti and Ahanmisi also added 15 and nine markers, respectively.

The Soaring Falcons and the Fighting Marons wage war in a winner-take-all matchup for a Finals berth on Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.

BOX SCORES

UP 73 – Desiderio 19, Gomez de Liano Ju 19, Manzo 9, Gomez de Liano Ja 9, Akhuetie 6, Prado 4, Dario 3, Jaboneta 2, Vito 2, Murrell 0, Gozum 0, Lim 0, Tungcab 0

ADAMSON 71 – Sarr 23, Manganti 15, Ahanmisi 9, Camacho 8, Lastimosa 7, Espeleta 5, Magbuhos V 4, Pingoy 0, Mojica 0, Catapusan 0, Bernardo 0

QUARTER SCORES: 17-16, 28-29, 54-43, 73-71

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