With a win vs. FEU, UP finishes 1st round in UAAP basketball with a 6-1 win-loss

| Written by Jo. Florendo B. Lontoc

UP’s Ricci Rivero rams through FEU’s defenses. The UPMBT has completed a near-sweep of the first round of the UAAP Season 84 men’s basketball. Photo by the UAAP Media Group.

The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons outscored the Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws, 83-76, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena, Pasay City, on April 9, 2022, completing a near-sweep of the UAAP Season 84 men’s basketball first round. The UP Men’s Basketball Team enters the second half of the preliminaries on solo second with a 6-1 win-loss card, trailing the yet unbeatable and last season’s champion, the Ateneo Blue Eagles.

UP’s Zavier Lucero exults after scoring in the game’s 4th quarter. Photo by the UAAP Media Group.

Forward Zavier Lucero powered the victory with 27 points, with a whopping 16 worth connecting in the third quarter, enabling UP to pull away from FEU from a dismal 31-32 in the first half to 58-50.

In the first quarter, the Maroons had trailed FEU, 14-18, before regaining composure in the second. Lucero and center Carl Tamayo had chipped in 8 points apiece, but still no match to Tamaraws LJ Gonzales and Xyrus Torres 18-point combo.

“It probably should have been down more than we were, the way we were playing,” Lucero said post-game. “I thought we played well in the second half, and we got out to a strong start. And then our guys just made plays on the fourth quarter to keep [FEU] at bay.”

UP Coach Goldwin Monteverde bolsters rookie UP player Terrence Fortea. Photo by UAAP Media Group.

“I guess ‘yung tempo nung first half hindi favorable sa amin, so we tried to force them to play an up-tempo game, which opened up things for us in transition,” said UP coach Goldwin Monteverde. “’Yung defense, kahit papaano, nu’ng second half mas gumanda naman.”

In the fourth quarter, Guard Ricci Rivero foiled an FEU comeback with 8 out of the 10 points he made in the game, capped by a trey sealing UP’s winning 83, 14.4 seconds before the final buzzer.

Guard CJ Cansino and center Malick Diouf joined Lucero, Tamayo, and Rivero as top scorers with seven each. Lucero’s reinforcements came along with 27 points, 12 rebounds, three steals, and one block. Tamayo logged in 12 points, four rebounds, and two blocks. Six rebounds and three assists backed Rivero’s 10 points.

Gonzales led FEU with 20 points and eight rebounds, followed by Emmanuel Ojuola with 17 points and 13 rebounds.

UP’s CJ Cansino drives through FEU’s defenses. Photo by the UAAP Media Group.

Asked about his chances at the Most Valuable Player award, Lucero said: “It’s flattering, but we have one goal on this team. Everybody has the same goal. That’s what’s special about us. There’s no individual accolade that will make a difference if we aren’t able to do what we set out to do. I like where we’re at.”

A team plays the other teams twice in the two-round preliminaries of the games’ three-stage format. The format eliminates four teams with the worst records, and the other four move forward to the semifinals, where the first-seeded team plays the fourth, and the second plays the third. The first- and second-seeded teams have the twice-to-beat advantage in the semis, while the third and fourth teams need to win twice. The two winning teams from the match-ups compete in the finals.

However, with the Blue Eagles making a 16-0 sweep in the group stage in Season 82, the games had to assume the stepladder format, where they advanced straight to the finals. The second-, third-, and fourth-seeded teams had to compete in the semis to play the Blue Eagles in the finals.

The Scores:

UP 83 — Lucero 27, Tamayo 12, Rivero 10, Cansino 7, Diouf 7, Fortea 6, Alarcon 5, Cagulangan 4, Abadiano 3, Spencer 2, Lina 0, Catapusan 0.

FEU 76 — Gonzales 20, Ojuola 17, Torres 17, Alforque 9, Abarrientos 8, Sandagon 3, Tempra 2, Sleat 0, Sajonia 0, Bienes 0, Celzo 0.

Quarterscores: 14-18, 31-32, 58-50, 83-76.

Fans celebrate UP’s latest triumph in the UAAP Season 84 men’s basketball games. Photo by the UAAP Media Group.