Carl Tamayo bucked his early slump and led the heroics for University of the Philippines' hard-earned 78-74 win over De La Salle in their thrilling semifinals showdown in the UAAP Season 84 men's basketball at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City Friday night, May 6.
Tamayo showed poise down the stretch and fired key baskets which enabled the Fighting Maroons to arrange a Finals clash against reigning champions Ateneo Blue Eagles in another “Battle of Katipunan” on Sunday, May 8.
The UP star rookie scored 12 of his 19 points in the payoff period alone along with 10 rebounds, four steals, and three assists.
The Gilas Pilipinas stalwart was limited to a 5-of-18 shooting and missed all of his five attempts from beyond the arc before leading the Maroons late in the fourth quarter.
"Actually halos buong game we were struggling. It led until sa last four minutes and you know they never gave up." said UP head coach Goldwin Monteverde.
"Sa totoo lang, 'di ko maano what I'm feeling right now eh... Going towards this game, before we started this game, everybody just made the decision that whatever happens we're gonna fight until the end," added the multi-titled juniors' champion coach, who bared that some of his wards had suffered from food poisoning days prior to the rubber match.
The win also marked UP's first Finals comeback for the second time in three seasons.
Malick Diouf chalked up 14 points, 17 rebounds, and four steals to make up for his seven turnovers while Harold Alarcon added 14 points built on three triples to go with six rebounds.
Ricci Rivero also chipped in 12 points, four rebounds, three assists, and three steals for UP, which opted to sit out swingman CJ Cansino due to bone bruising on his knee.
Alarcon's corner triple at the 3:50 mark of the payoff period sparked the Maroons' 12-2 run to cut the 10-point deficit and reach the first deadlock of the match at 73-all.
UP clamped down on its defense and forced De La Salle to give up a couple of turnovers off inbounds plays before Michael Phillips finally converted a basket when he split his shot from the free throw line en route to a 74-73 lead with 32.3 seconds left.
Tamayo, who scored the last six points for UP in the waning seconds, completed an and-one play off a foul from Justine Baltazar with 21.5 ticks to go.
Evan Nelle fired a floater in the ensuing play but it rattled off the basket as Tamayo secured a defensive rebound and iced the game at the free throw line.
Deschon Winston exploded with 26 points but his efforts went into naught, Mark Nonoy added 11 points and three assists, while Michael Phillips chipped in 10 points to go with 17 rebounds.
Justine Baltazar, who suited up for his last playing year, struggled from the field on a 4-of-13 shooting and finished with nine points, eight rebounds, four assists, three steals.
UP 78 -- Tamayo 19, Diouf 14, Alarcon 14, Rivero 12, Abadiano 7, Cagulangan 6, Spencer 5, Lucero 1, Ramos 0.
DLSU 74 -- Winston 26, Nonoy 11, M. Phillips 10, Baltazar 9, Nelle 6, Manuel 4, Nwankwo 4, Lojera 2, Austria 2, B. Phillips 0.
Quarterscores: 15-22, 39-44, 51-64, 78-74.