UNIVERSITY of the Philippines banked on a triple from Paul Desiderio in the last 1.4 seconds, lifting the Fighting Maroons to a 74-73 win over University of Santo Tomas and giving team a rare opening-day win Sunday in the 80th University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
It was just the fourth time in 10 years that the Fighting Maroons have ever won their first game of the season.
“Sabi ko sa sarili ko, mahihiya pa ba ako, eh last shot na. Sayang naman,” said Desiderio after the Maroons joined the Ateneo Blue Eagles and the National University Bulldogs in the early lead.
The Growling Tigers held the lead for the 11th and final time at 73-71, following Marvin Lee’s two charities off Gelo Vito’s fouls in the last 5.3 seconds.
When UP coach Bo Perasol called for a time afterwards, he gave instructions to let anyone who is open to shoot a three.
“We generated excitement again for the team with that last second shot of Paul,” said Perasol.
The 20-year-old Desiderio shot a game-high 17 points, had nine rebounds and made only 2 of 11 three-point attempts in that game.
Earlier, Chibueze Ikeh knocked in 18 points to lift the Blue Eagles to an 85-65 win over the Adamson Falcons.
J-Jay Alejandro made 14 points as the NU Bulldogs gave coach Jamike Jarin a rousing debut by turning back University of the East, 86-69.
Aljun Melecio banged in 29 points for the defending champion La Salle Green Archers, who stood their ground in the fourth quarter and held off a rallying Far Eastern University for a 95-90 win.
Games Wednesday (Araneta Coliseum)
2 p.m. UE vs FEU
4 p.m. UP vs Ateneo