Maroons prey on Falcons yet again

| Written by Arlyn VCD Palisoc Romualdo

UP center Bright Akhuetie and Adamson University forward Jerrick Ahanmisi comfort Adamson one-and-done player Val Chauca, after the Fighting Maroons shot down the Soaring Falcons again this season. (Photo by Misael Bacani, UP MPRO)


They were down by 12 twice in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter. And then it happened. That re-energized Fighting Maroon spirit emerged, eager to bounce back from a previous game’s defeat. That hunger for victory powerfully played out in a 21-5 run in the last seven minutes of the game.


Team above all: the UP Fighting Maroons pre-game huddle (Photo by Misael Bacani, UP MPRO)


For the second time this season, the UP Fighting Maroons clipped the Adamson University Soaring Falcons, 81-77.


The UP crowd is on its feet after Jun Manzo’s basket gives UP the lead going into the last two minutes, 76-74. (Photo by Misael Bacani, UP MPRO)


Adamson started the game aggressively, gaining first possession and pummeling UP with an 11-2 run three minutes in. The Falcons were driven to sink their claws into the Maroons, who have had no success against the UP dribblers since last season’s semifinals, when the Maroons blanked their twice-to-beat advantage and secured the finals berth. That drive to defeat UP ended the first quarter with Adamson up by eight, 19-11.


Javi Gomez de Liaño goes for the jumper, coming from Bright Akhuetie’s long pass off Ricci Rivero’s block of Jerrick Ahanmisi. (Photo by Misael Bacani, UP MPRO)


The Fighting Maroons shook off their sluggish start and worked harder, making 25 points in the second quarter against the Soaring Falcons’ 18. Jun Manzo started with a putback from his own miss, less than a minute into the quarter. Kobe Paras went from zero in the first quarter to nine in the second. Juan Gomez de Liaño made eight. Bright Akhuetie added six.


Rally for the lead in the second quarter: Bright Akhuetie intercepts Adamson ball. Jun Manzo catches it, passes to Juan Gomez de Liaño, who sets up this flawless jam by Kobe Paras. UP gets its first lead in the game, 29-28. (Photo by Misael Bacani, UP MPRO)


On the Falcons side, Val Chauca continued his assault in the second quarter, contributing six more to his 11 in the first. But even with Jerrick Ahanmisi, Vince Magbuhos, Egie Mojica, and Joshua Yerro putting in the points to try and pad the Adamson lead, the San Marcelino squad only managed to step away with a one-point advantage over the Diliman team at the end of the first half, 37-36.


A display of mid-air grace and agility as Bright Akhuetie drives to the basket against Lenda Douanga. (Photo by Misael Bacani, UP MPRO)


Adamson knew it had to stretch its lead going into the second half, as UP has been known to rally and catch up. Similar to their performance in the first quarter, the Falcons proved to be the tougher team in the third. Despite only three triples to counter five from the Maroons, the Falcons banked ten two-pointers versus the Maroons’ three, raking in 29 points against 21. Free throw shooting was nil in the third quarter for both teams and in the end, Adamson led by nine, 66-57.


Simon says go, but Bright says no. Bright Akhuetie stops Simon Camacho’s shot in the paint. (Photo by Misael Bacani, UP MPRO)


The Fighting Maroons knew they were not done yet and pushed to close the 12-point distance from the Soaring Falcons. Three treys courtesy of Gomez de Liaño, Ricci Rivero, and Manzo; three twos from Gomez de Liaño and Manzo again, with another from Paras; and two from the line from Noah Webb and Rivero, put the game in a deadlock at 74 with 3:27 remaining.


We got threes for you. Jun Manzo (left), Juan Gomez de Liaño (middle), and Kobe Paras (right) take and make the treys. All in all, Manzo made three shots from beyond the arc; Gomez de Liaño sank three; Paras got two; Ricci Rivero made two; and Jaydee Tungcab scored one. UP scored 11 three-pointers against Adamson’s nine. (Photos by Misael Bacani, UP MPRO)


And just like UP’s kick-off to the second quarter, Manzo again pushed his offensive game, delivering a putback from his own miss and claiming a two-point lead for the Maroons. But quick-eyed Falcon Jeron Lastimosa saw an opening and got away from Gomez de Liaño, sinking a three-point basket with the game clock at 1:47 and taking back the Adamson lead, 77-76. Six seconds later, Gomez de Liaño crossed the half court, passed the ball to Bright Akhuetie, who gave it to Paras standing beyond the arc. He only gave it a second’s thought before letting the ball fly and sinking the three for a two-point UP lead,79-77, with 1:25 left in the game.


Steal the ball, run with it, and score the easy two. Jun Manzo knows the sequence and gets ready to fly for the clean layup. He was named Player of the Game with 17 points, seven rebounds, three assists, one steal, and one block. (Photo by Misael Bacani, UP MPRO)


It was Rivero’s big steal of the Adamson ball from the inbound pass of Ahanmisi to Chauca that sealed the deal for UP. Maroon possession saw Manzo receiving the ball from Rivero and passing it to Akhuetie who drove to the paint, getting a foul from Ahanmisi. Making his two charities, Akhuetie pushed the UP lead to four. The Maroons upped their defense, leaving the Falcons no other choice but to force difficult shots. With eight seconds remaining, an offensive foul was called on Lastimosa when the Falcon stuck his foot out taking a three-point jumper against Paras. While UP wasn’t able to add more points to its score, the buzzer ended the game with a Maroon win.

The Fighting Maroons tightened its hold on the second spot in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament with seven wins and four losses.


All cheers, no jeers. The Maroon crowd celebrates the UP victory. (Photo by Misael Bacani, UP MPRO)