By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons continued its strong start in the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball tournament after crushing the University of the East (UE), 84-69, last October 4, 2023, held at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
From the get-go, the Fighting Maroons sucked the life out of the Red Warriors after cruising to a commanding 30-6 lead in the first 10 minutes.
UP’s pressure defense and effort in the boards made it all possible as they limited UE to only three points in the first seven minutes of action.
Reigning UAAP Most Valuable Player (MVP) Malick Diouf recorded his second-straight double-double performance after putting up 19 points, 16 rebounds, three blocks, and two steals.
Diouf quickly set the tone in the opening frame after scoring seven early points while anchoring UP’s interior with his tremendous shot-blocking.
It was then all UP after the first half as they closed the first two quarters with a double-digit lead before the Red Warriors struck back and made a run in the third period.
From a 24-point deficit, the Red Warriors finally found their shooting from the field and trimmed UP’s lead to just 11 points.
Just when UE thought they could sustain their efforts, the Fighting Maroons settled in the fourth quarter and played a more disciplined brand of hoops to fend off the Red Warriors’ comeback attempt.
Backstopping Diouf was the retuning CJ Cansino who cashed in three trifectas on his way to 17 markers while LeBron Lopez chipped in nine points.
It was another balanced scoring effort from the Fighting Maroons as 11 of their players all entered the offensive column against UE.