UP confirms Lucero’s absence for UAAP Finals Game 3 due to an ACL tear

Zavier Lucero suffered a conference-ending torn ACL injury (Naveen Ganglani Facebook)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons’ men’s basketball team will have to give their all in Game 3 of the UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball grand finals after swingman star Zavier Lucero won’t be available.

UP Program Director Bo Perasol confirmed that the former UAAP Mythical Team awardee just played his last game of the year after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee.

With eight minutes remaining in Game 2 of their finals series against the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Blue Eagles, Lucero lost his balance after going for a hard drive to the basket.

Lucero apparently twisted his left knee during his attack and immediately screamed in pain while holding his whole left leg.

The Filipino-American power forward failed to get up on his own and was carried out by two team officials from the Fighting Maroons just to get out of the playing court.

Lucero’s absence badly hurt the Fighting Maroons in Game 2 and got beaten by the Blue Eagles fair and square, 65-55.

During their first game against Ateneo, it was Lucero who sparked the Fighting Maroons’ 72-66 win after swatting away Ange Kouame’s attempt that sealed the deal for UP.

Aside from his defensive versatility, UP will also miss Lucero’s offensive prowess after serving as the team’s efficient stretch-four that posted tons of problems for head coach Tab Baldwin and the Blue Eagles.

The Fighting Maroons are yet to announce Lucero’s timetable of recovery but were already firm on sidelining him in the do-or-die Game 3 of the UAAP finals.