By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons’ deep and talented roster proved to be too much for the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers after crushing them by 31 points, 110-79, in the ongoing UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball tournament last October 14, 2023, held at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
After trailing early in the opening frame, the Fighting Maroons banked on their defensive counter schemes to blitz the Growling Tigers in the second quarter while also waxing hot from the field in the last five minutes heading into the second half.
With UST still leading by a deuce, the Fighting Maroons kicked off their insane rally after clinching two straight steals which led to two quick three-pointers courtesy of JD Cagulangan and CJ Cansino.
After UP’s back-to-back treys, the squad suddenly went beast mode and ended the second quarter with more points as Harold Alarcon and LeBron Lopez joined Cansino and Cagulangan in ballooning their lead, 59-45.
Despite the aggressiveness shown by the Growling Tigers at the start of the third canto, the Fighting Maroons still carried their momentum and pounced on UST the whole second half.
For the fifth straight time, it was UP’s balanced scoring that made the difference in the ball game as 14 players that head coach Goldwyn Monteverde fielded contributed in the offensive department.
Alarcon paced the Fighting Maroons with 21 big points backstopped by Cagulangan who chipped in 16 markers.
Coach Monteverde stressed that their whole game plan in the second half was to lockdown UST’s perimeter.
During the first 15 minutes of action, the Growling Tigers led by Nic Cabañero jumped off to a great start and were attacking the teeth of UP’s defense at will.
The adjustment Monteverde deployed in the remaining 20 minutes of action then limited UST’s made field goals including Cabañero who only produced five points in the second half.
UP will gun for their sixth straight win as they set up a highly-anticipated clash against the De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Archers on October 18, 2023.