In a span of 4.3 seconds, the emotions of the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons turned from despair to relief as Diego Dario bailed out his team late to take a 61-59 thriller against the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals, Wednesday afternoon at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
UP stay on top of Group B with a 3-0 slate, while EAC fell to 1-3. But the win would not have been possible if it were not for the UP gunslinger.
“We always liken things to the UAAP tournament. We’re 3-0 but we can’t think about it because were trying to practice for the UAAP,” second-year UP head coach Bo Perasol shared about their excellent start.
With 17 second left and UP up by just a solitary point 58-57, Gelo Vito fumbled a sideline inbound, leading to a Juju Bautista layup to put the Generals up.
With no timeouts remaining for both sides, Dario raced the court, throwing a pull-up triple that luckily went in with 7.7 ticks left. Francis Munsayac tried to tie the game but his shot fell way short as time expired.
“In the end, yung lucky shot ni Diego ang nagpanalo,” Perasol remarked. “I think we closed the game really bad but Diego’s shot bailed us out.”
Dario finished the game with 14 points, going 4-for-8 from downtown.
The Fighting Maroons had to buck a slow start, however, falling behind by as much as 14 points, 19-5 in the first quarter. UP were only able to get the taste of the lead during the third frame, after a booming triple by Dario with 3:50 left in the third frame.
“We started flat but we calmed down ourselves and it was good that we were able to bounce back. It all started with our defense,” Perasol added.
Paul Desiderio led UP with 18 points on 7-for-21 shooting, while incoming rookie Juan Gomez de Liano added nine points and eight rebounds.
EAC out-rebounded UP, 49-38, but committed 21 turnovers. In addition, the Fighting Maroons knocked down 10 triples in the game.
Jerome Garcia and Munsayac paced EAC with 11 points each with the former grabbing seven rebounds as well.
UP look to make it four in a row when they take on the Adamson University Soaring Falcons on Sunday, May 27, at 3:15pm. EAC, on the other hand, will try to bounce back when they face the Saint Benilde Blazers on Friday, May 26, at 11:15am.
UP (61) – Desiderio 18, Dario 14, Gomez de Liano 9, Lim 6, Manzo 5, Vito 5, Quattara 4, Webb 1, Ricafort 0, Harris 0, Prado 0, Romero 0.
EAC (59) – Garcia 11, Munsayac 11, Onwubere 10, Laminou 8, Guzman 6, Bautista 5, Diego 4, Pascua 2, Gonzales 2, Mendoza J 0, Mendoza I 0, Tampoc 0, Corilla 0, Neri 0.
Quarterscores: 6-19, 24-29, 41-39, 61-59.