By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The retooled and stacked University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons didn’t disappoint in their debut game of the UAAP Season 86 after asserting their mastery over the Adamson Soaring Falcons, 68-51, last October 1, 2023, held at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
It was a balanced offensive effort for the Fighting Maroons as nine of their players all entered the scoring column against the Soaring Falcons.
Reigning UAAP men’s basketball Most Valuable Player (MVP) Malick Diouf led the way for UP after finishing the game with a monster double-double performance of 20 points, 17 rebounds, and four blocks.
Despite the strong effort from the versatile center, it was the returning CJ Cansino who stole the limelight for the Fighting Maroons.
Despite an inconsistent outing for UP due to a series of injuries, the sweet-shooting guard reintroduced his name in collegiate hoops after piling up 19 big markers.
Cansino went unconscious during his first game in Season 86 after draining five three-pointers and was pumped up when he buried his last trey to extend UP’s lead to 17 points, 68-51, with only 31 seconds remaining.
The Soaring Falcons were still in striking distance in the first half when they were able to answer every UP basket while earning some defensive stops to chip away their deficit.
However, it was in the third quarter when the Fighting Maroons got the better of Adamson when they snowballed their way off consecutive scoring runs.
The trio of Cansino, Diouf, and Harold Alarcon dictated the pace for UP and were too much for the Jerom Lastimosa-less Adamson squad.
LeBron Lopez, UP’s off-season enrollee who was predicted to make an impact in his first year, balled the lights out and treated the crowd with a series of high-flying deuces including a two-handed slam dunk in the first quarter.