UNIVERSITY of the Philippines sent National University crashing to another heartbreaking loss and later seized solo second place as University of Santo Tomas fell in ambush to Adamson yesterday in the UAAP men's basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Fighting Maroons won via the slimmest of margins for the second straight game, an 80-79 squeaker over the hard-luck Bulldogs, while the Falcons held the high-octane Growling Tigers scoreless in the final 3:13 to fashion out a bounce-back 78-71 victory.
Raising its record to 3-1 overall, UP moved within a game behind defending two-time champion Ateneo (4-0), while Adamson is now tied with UST in third place with a 3-2 card.
Later, Far Eastern University turned to Wendell Comboy in the payoff period to beat La Salle, 66-55, and secure its second win in four starts. The Green Archers lost for the third time in four matches.
NU, which at 0-4 is on its worst start in 14 years, could not catch a break. Again.
Dave Ildefonso hit a three in the final 11.6 seconds to cut the deficit to 79-80 and the Bustillos-based team had a chance to steal the victory after Dave Murrell bungled his two foul shots, but John Lloyd Clemente's triple went airball at the buzzer.
The Maroons had a sigh of relief after surviving another close shave, this time against the Bulldogs.
"The difficult part of trying to rev up your team when you go up against a 0-3 team is them thinking that they can just go past that particular team. NU is a lot, lot better than their 0-4 slate," said UP mentor Bo Perasol.
"If you're going to get into the margin of losses they had, I think that's going to be a record now. For our part, like Kobe (Paras) had said earlier to me, we need to learn how to close out games together as a team. But that's a process, it's not going to happen," he added.
"We've got three close games already. I think if we are smart enough, we' re wise enough, we have to learn how to close it out. The fact of that is I know we can. There were just lapses but we're going to learn from that."
On his second game in the UAAP, second generation player Paras sizzled for the Maroons with 25 points, six rebounds and two assists while reigning MVP Bright Akhuetie recorded his third consecutive double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds.
Jerrick Ahanmisi had 24 points, four boards and three assists while Val Chauca added 18 points, eight assists and six boards for the Falcons.
It was Chauca and Ahanmisi that starred in a 16-0 run in the final 3:13 that allowed Adamson to rebound from last Sunday's narrow 82-83 overtime defeat to UP.
"Well, first of all, we needed that win. As you all know what happened to us the last game. If you noticed the body language of the players, they were still sulking. Probably if I didn’t stop coaching that difference between us and UST should have ballooned already. I just had to tell everybody stay within the course and of course, we got a big lift from Val (Chauca). That’s why he’s here - he’s here to guide this young team. As we all know, we’re still composed of young guys," said Adamson coach Franz Pumaren.
Benin's Soulamane Chabi Yo led the Tigers with 17 points and 15 boards as a hubbing Rhenz Abando played limited minutes and finished only with nine points. Abando, who failed to score in twin digits for the first time this season, was subbing out in the final four minutes due to a hurting right leg.
UP (80) -- Paras 25, Akhuetie 19, Ja. Gomez de Liaño 17, Tungcab 6, Manzo 4, Rivero 4, Longa 3, Murrell 2, Ju. Gomez de Liaño 0, Gozum 0, Jaboneta 0, Prado 0, Spencer 0.
NU (79) -- D. Ildefonso 25, Gaye 13, S. Ildefonso 13, Gallego 9, Joson 8, Minerva 7, Clemente 2, Mosqueda 2, Diputado 0, Galinato 0, Malonzo 0, Oczon 0, Tibayan 0, Yu 0.
Quarterscores: 18-23, 44-36, 67-59, 80-79
AdU (78) -- Ahanmisi 24, Chauca 18, Douanga 9, Fermin 7, Lastimosa 6, Mojica 5, Magbuhos 4, Camacho 3, Manlapaz 2, Bernardo 0, Flowers 0, Yerro 0, Zaldivar 0.
UST (71) -- Chabi Yo 17, Cansino 10, Concepcion 10, Nonoy 10, Abando 9, Subido 6, Huang 4, Paraiso 3, Pangilinan 2, Ando 0, Caunan 0, Cuajao 0.
Quarterscores: 19-15, 33-38, 48-58, 78-71
FEU (66) -- Tchuente 19, Comboy 11, Bienes 9, Eboña 8, Alforque 7, Gonzales 5, Tuffin 4, Torres 3, Cani 0, Nunag 0, Stockton 0.
DLSU (55) - Malonzo 20, Caracut 10, Baltazar 6, Serrano 6, Melecio 5, Bates 2, Lojera 2, Meeker 2, Pado 2, Manuel 0.
Quarterscores: 19-14, 36-24, 49-43, 66-55