By NIKOLE JAVIER
Defending champion University of the Philippines inched closer to a twice-to-beat advantage after a 78-60 win over University of Santo Tomas in the second round of the UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball tournament Wednesday, Nov. 23, at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Carl Tamayo led the way with a 19-point finish on top of nine rebounds to tow the Fighting Maroons to a commanding victory and improve 11-2 in the standings.
Cyril Gonzales and Malick Diouf also added 14 and 10 markers with the latter hauling an additional 14 boards as UP bagged the extra cushion heading into the semifinals.
Up by only three at the half, 37-34, UP got back to serious business in the second half and led by as much as 23, 76-53, which was too much for UST to overcome.
Tamayo then nailed two more points off the line to protect their big lead until the final buzzer.
With a huge boost, UP is set for another rematch with Ateneo to end its elimination round campaign.
“That was one of the goals coming into this game. Coach Gold rarely talks about standings in the pre-game because our season has been built on growth, just building every game. But every time realizing ‘yong importance ng game na to. Obviously, malaking advantage to. I guess that puts us one step closer. But there’s a lot to improve on,” said UP assistant coach Christian Luanzon. “We’re gonna go back and watch this game and prepare our best coming into the game this Saturday.”
For UST’s part, Nic Cabanero and Adama Faye had 14 and 12, respectively. With a 1-11 record, the Tigers have officially been cut out of the Final Four picture.