University of the Philippines asserted its dominance and made quick work of University of Santo Tomas with an emphatic 96-67 win in the UAAP Season 84 men's basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City Thursday night, April 28.
The Fighting Maroons, already assured of a twice-to-beat advantage heading into the playoffs, were up by as many as 20 points in the first half, 53-33, before CJ Cansino and the rest of the players off the bench delivered and did not stop converting baskets after baskets en route to the 29-point victory.
UP, which improved to an 11-2 record, also capitalized on the error-plagued UST as it converted 25 points off turnovers.
The Maroons proved to be too much for the Growling Tigers as the latter found themselves trailing for another 20 points heading into the last quarter, 73-53.
"Ever since nung natalo kami sa Adamson I think 'yong team namin after that loss, nagamit namin to improve, especially 'yong team game namin, 'yong movement ng bola mas maganda," said Maroons head coach Goldwin Monteverde. "'Yong defense namin a while ago was doing good din from the start."
Ricci Rivero led the Maroons' balanced attack with 15 points to go with three rebounds, Cansino scored 14 points along with five rebounds, Zavier Lucero chalked up 13 points and eight rebounds, while RC Calimag had 10 points and three rebounds in five minutes and 32 seconds of action.
JD Cagulangan also had another all-around performance with nine points, seven assists, five steals, and three rebounds while Carl Tamayo and Harold Alarcon scored seven points apiece.
The Maroons notched the biggest lead of the match at 33 capped by Calimag's mid-range jumper at the 2:47 mark of the payoff period, 92-59.
Migs Pangilinan was the lone bright spot for the already ran Tigers as he reached double-digit scoring with 21 points built on five triples including four rebounds.
UST, which slipped to a 3-10 slate, takes on neighbor school Far Eastern University on Sunday, May 1 at their 12:30 p.m. encounter while UP seeks to hand Ateneo its first loss of the season to erase the stepladder format.
The Blue Eagles, who remain unbeaten in 13 straight matches, are just a win away from an outright Finals berth.
UP 96 - Rivero 15, Cansino 14, Lucero 13, Calimag 10, Cagulangan 9, Tamayo 7, Alarcon 7, Fortea 6, Diouf 6, Spencer 3, Catapusan 2, Ramos 2, Webb 2, Abadiano 0, Lina 0.
UST 67 - Pangilinan 21, Gomez de Liaño 9, Mantua 6, Ando 6, Manalang 5, Cabañero 4, Fontanilla 4, Manaytay 4, Concepcion 3, Herrera 3, Canoy 2, Sumodio 0, Yongco 0, Gesalem 0.
Quarterscores: 26-11, 53-33, 73-53, 96-67