UP Fighting Maroons 74 – UST Growling Tigers 73
Paul Desiderio hit a go-ahead three-pointer with one second left in the game to lead the UP Fighting Maroons over the UST Growling Tigers. UP looked like they had the game at hand with a double-digit lead in the second quarter. But they couldn’t pull away from a pesky UST squad that came back in the third quarter and turned the game into a back and forth affair. That set-up the wild finish leading to Desiderio’s big trey.
UST held a two-point lead with less than a minute left in the game. Desiderio got the ball on the right wing and drove hard to the hoop to tie the game at 70. Noah Webb and Jeepy Faundo traded split free-throws to keep the score knotted at 71. In the dying seconds of the game, UP had the ball on a fast break opportunity. Desiderio passed to Jun Manzo who went up for an ill-advised reverse layup. The shot missed and UST got the ball to their end of the court where Marvin Lee was fouled with five seconds left in the game. Lee sank both free throws to give UST a two-point lead.
UP called a timeout and set-up a play for Desiderio. Manzo got the ball and waited for Desiderio to curl off a Noah Webb screen. Manzo dished to Desiderio near the top of the key. He rose up for the game-winner over the outstretched arms of Zach Huang. The shot fell straight through the hoop. Before that shot, Desiderio had missed all but one of his 10 three-point attempts. He made one when when it counted the most.
DLSU Green Archers 95 – FEU Tamaraws 90
With Ben Mbala playing for the Cameroonian national team, Aljun Melecio stepped up in the first game of the De La Salle Green Archers and towed them to a close game against the FEU Tamaraws. The former Juniors MVP exploded for 29 points to lead the Archers to a win.
The game was highly anticipated as it was the first meeting between the two teams since the incident in Davao late last month. The Archers were ready for battle as they jumped out to an early lead thanks to their pressure defense and the hot shooting of Melecio. The defending champions built up a 29-11 lead and maintained a comfortable 15-point lead at half. Melecio, a spitfire guard off the bench last season got the start for his team’s first game. He wasted no time taking advantage of the opportunity as he dropped 20 points in the first half.
FEU tried to mount a comeback in the third quarter when they forced La Salle to several turnovers and got out to running on the break. They cut the deficit down to just seven points, 41-55 and were threatening to take over the game. Kib Montalbo answered the FEU run with three straight triples to help the Archers re-establish a double-digit lead. But that wasn’t the last run of FEU.
The Tamaraws exploded for 36 points in the fourth quarter as Wendell Comboy and Jasper Parker found their stroke from the outside and Ron Dennison cut up the defense inside. The three combined for 20 points as FEU pulled to within five points. But that was the closest they’d get. La Salle would prove to be steadier down the stretch as they hit their free throws and got key stops to hold on to the win.