(Users of the ABS-CBN News mobile app can view this slideshow via an Internet browser.)
MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE 1) The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons withstood a last ditch effort by the Adamson Soaring Falcons to register their first win in two years, 77-64, and end a 27-game losing streak Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Veterans Mikee Reyes and JR Gallarza set new career highs with 28 and 24 points, respectively, as UP recovered from a shaky start and eventually lead by as much as 24 points in the third period.
It was UP's first victory since August 19, 2012, a 63-48 win against the University of the East in Season 75.
"We really felt that this was the game where we can actually get a win," said Reyes, who torched every Adamson defender that was sent his way.
"We were ready for this," he stressed. "We knew that everyone was gonna be there - our friends, our supporters, even the doubters. Finally, they saw something in us, that we can perform even with a 0-6 start."
The Falcons had a better start to the game thanks to Jansen Rios, who scored nine points in the opening frame to give his team a 13-7 advantage. Reyes and Gallarza would conspire in a 16-0 run bridging the first and second periods, however, to give UP a 23-13 lead.
A three-pointer by Gallarza with 39.7 seconds left in the first period gave UP a 15-13 lead, and it was an advantage they would not relinquish.
UP's first half lead grew to as large as 14 points, 39-25, with Reyes waxing hot from the perimeter and Gallarza beating the Adamson big men on the boards for second chance points.
A 7-1 Adamson run, led by Don Trollano and capped by a Ryan Monteclaro triple, cut the deficit to single digits, 40-32, entering the halftime break.
The Maroons opened up the third quarter with a 12-0 that gave them a 52-32 lead, and the advantage ballooned to 24 points after Reyes converted a lay-up that made it 60-36.
It looked as though UP would cruise to victory from that point, with Gallarza and Reyes visibly pumping out the sizable Maroons crowd prior to the start of the final period.
Adamson however refused to go away quietly. The Falcons used their pressure defense late in the fourth to force the Maroons into turnovers, and Rios sparked a 9-0 blast capped by an Axel Inigo jumper that made it a 10-point game, 60-70.
"Medyo nagkalat nga ako noon," admitted Reyes of that stretch, which saw him struggle with cramps. The guard however commended their coaching staff and the players on the floor for remaining composed despite Adamson's run.
It was Gallarza who doused the Adamson rally, rebounding a miss by Rios then draining a back-breaking triple on the other end that stretched the lead to 73-60 with 1:41 to go in the game.
A triple by Trollano with 45 seconds left cut the lead to nine points, 64-73, but it proved to be the Falcons' last hurrah as Kyles Lao and Jarrell Lim iced the game from the free throw line.
It was an emotional victory for the Maroons, with Reyes pointing out that it was his first win as a player since 2009.
"It's a big thing for me," said the guard, who sat out most of Season 76. "As pathetic as it sounds, masarap. Masarap ito."
"I think it's more significant for the community," Gallarza said of the win. "I know it means so much to the UP community. I know they've been struggling, trying to support us, so this goes out to them."
The Maroons won the game despite the absence of head coach Rey Madrid, who is serving the second of a two-game suspension after hurling accusations of point shaving towards game officials.
"Coach Rey was with us in the practices," said Reyes. "He told us to win this game, that it will mean a lot to him even if he wasn't here."
UP now has a 1-6 win-loss record, while sending Adamson to a 0-6 slate.
Trollano scored 24 points and Rios added 20 in a losing effort for the Falcons, who endured long stretches of silence on offense and finished the game shooting 35%, while allowing UP to shoot nearly 40%.
UP 77 - Reyes 28, Gallarza 24, Lao 10, Juruena 4, Asilum 4, Gingerich 2, Moralde 2, Lim 2, Amar 1, Vito 0, Harris 0.
ADU 64 - Trollano 24, Rios 20, Monteclaro 5, Nalos 4, Villanueva 3, Inigo 3, Ochea 2, Baytan 2, Polican 1, Barrera 0, Garcia0, Aquino 0, Pedrosa 0.
Quarter-scoring: 17-13, 40-32, 64-46, 77-64