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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Maroons keep slim Final Four hopes alive

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UNIVERSITY of the Philippines scored its breakthrough win at the expense of Ateneo de Manila University, 13-25, 22-25, 26-24, 39-37, 15-12, to keep its slim Final Four chances alive in the UAAP Season 85 men’s volleyball tournament at the Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan, Wednesday.

UP’s Louis Gamban celebrates after scoring a point against Ateneo in the UAAP Season 85 men’s volleyball tournament at the Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan on Wednesday.

With UP ahead by just a point, 7-6, Louis Gamban scored a point before Angelo Lagando made all of his three points to create some separation for UP, 11-7.

The Blue Eagles kept coming back, 11-13, but it was Jian Salarzon’s attack error that went wide that proved to be lethal before getting a point back, 12-14.

But Jaivee Malabanan went through-the-block for the win.

It was a sorry loss for the Blue Eagles despite Jian Salarzon’s 30-point outing.

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“’Yung mga breaks parehong side naman Ateneo mayroon din, sa amin mayroon din pero ‘yung tiyagaan talaga nu’ng dulo so siguro naging advantage na nag long game kami nu’ng fourth set, ‘yung momentum nag tuluy tuloy nu’ng fifth set,” said UP head coach Rald Ricafort after the two-hour 48-minute marathon.

But the most crucial set was the fourth when the Fighting Maroons battled toe to toe with the Blue Eagles before Salarzon committed a costly service error that paved the way for Gamban’s crosscourt kill to force a decider, 39-37.

Ateneo saw its three-match win streak came to an end, dropping to 5-5 at joint fourth with De La Salle University.

Gamban produced an all-around game of 22 points, 16 excellent receptions, and 14 digs, while Malabanan added 21 points and 19 digs.

“Kahit na naghahabol, kailangan pa rin namin kapitan saka yung fighting spirit na kailangan ilaban namin ito, walang bibitaw talagang ibuhos na ito kasi UAAP na ito,” said Gamban on their fight.

Cajolo was also present with 18 points while Jessie Rubin joined the double figures party with 10 points.

Ken Batas and Charles Absin’s 18 points scored apiece for the Blue Eagles.

Ateneo will be back on Saturday against streaking University of Santo Tomas, while UP aims for back-to-back wins on Sunday against the Green Spikers. Both games will be at Philsports Arena in Pasig.

Watch the UAAP Season 85 Collegiate Volleyball Tournament on the UAAP Varsity Channel (Ch. 263 HD). Available on Prepaid Loads 300 & up (valid for 30 days).

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