Zavier Lucero and Joel Cagulangan provided the much-needed spark in the payoff period as University of the Philippines escaped De La Salle with a 61-59 win in the UAAP Season 84 men's basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City Thursday, April 7.
Lucero and Cagulangan, who was limited to five points but contributed seven assists and five rebounds, joined forces down the stretch and scored key baskets to make up for their error-plagued outing as the Fighting Maroons took solo second with a 5-1 record.
Lucero, a former Cal State Maritime Academy standout, had a monster performance of 21 points on a 9-of-15 shooting, including a go-ahead triple in the fourth quarter, and 14 rebounds. He built 11 of his 21 points in the fourth period alone.
It was a team effort for UP as Carl Tamayo chalked up nine points and 11 rebounds, CJ Cansino also posted nine points with eight rebounds, James Spencer had seven points and four rebounds, while Malick Diouf added seven points and seven rebounds.
"I felt halos buong game, maybe first hanggang third quarter, we struggled offensively," said UP head coach Goldwin Monteverde. "Good thing, especially in the fourth quarter, talagang nag step up ang defense namin. I thought Carl played really good defense against Baltazar in the fourth."
Tied at 59-all, Lucero secured an offensive rebound en route to a putback basket which pretty much sealed the deal for UP.
The Green Archers had their chances in the last 10 seconds but the Maroons had fouls to give and played time at their hands.
At its last possession, a desperate De La Salle with 3.8 ticks left handed the ball to Michael Phillips, who was heavily contested in the paint as UP got away with the win.
But it was Cagulangan who pumped life for the Maroons earlier as he fired a booming triple to tie the game at 54-all before Lucero fired the go-ahead three to complete the 12-2 run.
After an exchange of baskets, Deschon Winston drilled a three-pointer off a steal but Lucero doused his late efforts with the game-winning putback shot.
Justine Baltazar led the Green Archers, who slipped to a 4-2 record, with 13 points and 10 rebounds while Evan Nelle chipped in 13 points. Phillips had nine points and eight rebounds while Mark Nonoy also added nine points.
De La Salle will face Adamson on Saturday, April 9 at 1 p.m. while UP will clash with Far Eastern University at 7 p.m. as the first round of the tournament nears its conclusion.
UP 61 -- Lucero 21, Tamayo 9, Cansino 9, Spencer 7, Diouf 7, Cagulangan 5, Fortea 3, Rivero 0, Alarcon 0, Abadiano 0.
LA SALLE 59 -- Baltazar 13, Nelle 13, M. Phillips 9, Nonoy 9, Winston 7, Lojera 3, Galman 3, Nwankwo 2, Austria 0, B. Phillips 0, Cuajao 0.
Quarters: 17-17, 32-35, 43-48, 61-59.