UP MBT off to UAAP Season 85 finals—a second championship in the running?

| Written by Stephanie Esperida

UP MBT’s JD Cagulangan shooting past the Bulldogs’ defense. Photo by Kevin Christian Roque (UP MPRO)


The twice-to-beat University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons stamped its win right away in the first round of the final four series against the National University (NU) Bulldogs at the Big Dome on December 7. With this, the UP Fighting Maroons will head the finals against the Ateneo Blue Eagles on December 11 at the Mall of Asia Arena for a rematch of the Battle of Katipunan, putting the UAAP championship once again within arms’ reach of UP.

UPMBT’s Zavier Lucero sends off an unbeatable shot during the first round of the final four series of the UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball tournament. Photo by Kevin Christian Roque (UP MPRO)

This development comes after the UP MBT’s winning streak in the second round of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 85 men’s basketball tournaments began on October 1, 2022. The UP MBT trounced NU, Adamson University, the University of the East, Far Eastern University, and the University of Santo Tomas in five of the seven games in the second round, facing defeat only against De La Salle University and Ateneo de Manila University, and earning the twice-to-beat rank in the semifinals.

While the Bulldogs started strong in the first quarter, UP MBT’s Carl Tamayo’s three-pointer and Zavier Lucero’s drive to catch up in the last few seconds of the quarter brought the Fighting Maroons to a mere 2-point deficit.

After another weak offense in the second quarter, UP MBT Coach Goldwyn Monteverde urged the Fighting Maroons to stay in the present. UP MBT’s Cyril Gonzales’ scoring run in the third quarter earned the Fighting Maroons’ first lead. Adding to UP’s lead were Terence Fortea’s, Zavier Lucero’s, and Carl Tamayo’s hooks and 3-point shots, coupled with the team’s offensive rebounds.

The 9-0 run in the third quarter favored the UP Fighting Maroons in the final quarter. The defense started picking up in the fourth quarter. Gerry Abadiano’s shot from a steal brought the Fighting Maroons to a 2-point lead, followed by JD Cagulangan’s three-point shot got the team to a 5-point lead in the remaining 53 seconds of the last quarter.

Crucial to the game’s final moments was Harold Alarcon’s power block that caused the Bulldogs to lose a scoring opportunity. With 17 points, UP’s MVP, Malick Diouf racked up the highest points for the team. The UP Fighting Maroons sent the NU Bulldogs to its end and entered the finals to claim yet another championship title in UAAP Season 85. The team finished strong with 66 points against 61.

The scores from the UAAP Media group and nowhere to go but UP:

UP 69 — Diouf 17, Lucero 12, Gonzales 11, Cagulangan 8, Abadiano 7, Fortea 6, Tamayo 6, Alarcon 2, Spencer 0, Galinato 0, Torculas 0.

NU 61 — Figueroa 16, Baclaan 14, Malonzo 11, John 8, Yu 2, Clemente 2, Enriquez 2, Mahinay 2, Minerva 2, Galinato 2, Manansala 0, Palacielo 0, Tibayan 0.

UP MBT on the steal. Photo by Kevin Christian Roque (UP MPRO)
CHED Chairperson J. Prospero “Popoy” E. De Vera III cheers with the rest of the UP crowd. Photo by Kevin Christian Roque (UP MPRO)