The University of the Philippines opened its FilOil Premier Cup campaign on a winning note after rallying from behind to defeat Mapua Institute of Technology, 80-72, Friday at the Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Trailing 54-61 after the third quarter, UP’s guards took over when it mattered the most, with Jun Manzo, who had 13 points in the game, scoring two quick layups to give the Maroons a 68-65 lead halfway through the fourth.
Prized rookie Juan Gomez de Liaño had 12 points in his FilOil debut, including a tough fadeaway jumper to give the Maroons a 72-68 edge with 3:30 to go.
Paul Desiderio added 10 points and a pivotal steal, which led to the breakaway layup for Manzo with 7.4 seconds to go, to give UP its first win.
It was toe-to-toe in the opening quarter, with UP holding on to a 23-20 lead before the Cardinals took the slim 40-36 advantage heading into the halftime break.
Andoy Estrella caught fire in the third quarter, scoring Mapua’s last seven points to give the Cardinals a 54-43 cushion heading into the fourth.
Big man Ibrahim Quattara led the way for the Maroons, scoring 16 points and pulling down 14 boards before UP’s guards took control.
Victoria paced Mapua with 14 points, and JR Raflores added 10 points and seven rebounds as the Cardinals fall to a 0-4 record.
Even with the slow start, UP head coach Bo Perasol believes this is all part of UP’s development process, “One of the few things I emphasized to them going in this tournament is that we have to practice overcoming adversities. When we practice going into our main tournament which is the UAAP, we need to bounce back coming from behind or ahead kami, those are the things that we need to do as a team also.”
“Jun [Manzo] bailed us out with some good plays at the end,” Perasol said.
UP (80) - Quattara 16, Manzo 13, Ju. De Liaño 12, Desiderio 10, Prado 6, Dario 6, Lao 5, Ja. De Liaño 4, Lim 4, Ricafort 2, Vito 2, Harris 0,
MAPUA (72) - Victoria 14, Raflores 10, Bunag 8, Magboo 8, Gabo 8, Estrella 7, Orquina 7, Biteng 6, Pelayo 4, Serrano 0, Nieles 0, Gamboa 0, Aguirre 0.
23-20, 36-40, 54-61, 80-72.
This story was originally published on the ABS-CBN Sports website.