MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) -- Big man Chris Javier drilled a three-pointer at the buzzer – the first of his career – as the University of the East (UE) Red Warriors stunned the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons, 79-76, in their second round match-up Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
|UE Red Warriors celebrate Chris Javier's game-winning shot against the UP Fighting Maroons.
With the game tied at 76-all, UE's star point guard Roi Sumang opted to play decoy as he set up Javier at the corner, and the big man responded by taking – and making – the first three-point attempt of his UAAP career.
"First time ko maka-shoot ng three-points, game-winner pa," Javier said after the game. "Nasa dugo ko lang 'yung dugong Warrior."
It was only the Warrior’s second victory in the UAAP Season 75 men’s basketball tournament, and allowed them to avenge their loss to the Fighting Maroons at the end of the first round of eliminations.
Last August 19, the Maroons relied on rookie point guard Henri Asilum to beat the Warriors, 63-48, for their first and only win of the season so far.
Javier tied his career-high with 20 points, while Sumang finished with 20 points, seven assists and five rebounds.
It was the Warriors' first victory since Boycie Zamar took over head-coaching duties for the Warriors at the start of the second round, replacing Jerry Codiñera. Zamar’s last victory in the UAAP came on September 18, 2003, when the Warriors beat De La Salle 64-62 in Season 66.
"It's a magical win," Zamar said. "But any win is morale boosting."
In a battle of two teams at the bottom of the league standings, it was the Warriors who struck first with an 8-0 blast to open the first quarter. But the Maroons’ fired right back thanks to Jett Manuel, who came off the bench to drained two three-pointers, giving UP a 19-17 lead in the first period.
The Maroons built a double-digit lead, 30-20, early in the second quarter, before the Warriors' backcourt pair of JR Sumido and Sumang led the team's comeback with back-to-back three pointers midway through the period.
A lay-up by Javier allowed the Warriors to go down by only three-points, 37-40, going into halftime, but UE’s Ivan Hernandez committed an unsportsmanlike foul right as the halftime buzzer sounded.
This gave the Maroons two free throws and ball possession to start the second half, but it turned out to be one of the few highlights of quarter for UP.
With Javier and reserve forward Adrian Santos controlling the boards, the Warriors took control of the game. Santos scored five straight points early in the third period to take the lead, 48-44, for the first time since the opening quarter.
The Warriors would go on to outscore the Maroons 29-18 in the third to carry a 66-58 lead into the final quarter.
But after a jumper by Sumang gave the Warriors a 72-62 lead, the Maroons scored seven straight points to climb right back into the game. Gene Belleza scored to temporarily stop the UP rally, but Diony Hipolito scored on a putback, and Mike Silungan drilled a three-pointer to tie the game at 74-all..
The Maroons took their last lead of the game at 76-75 off a lay-up from Cris Ball, but Javier tied the game with a free throw on the next UE possession.
UP had several chances to win the game, but Mike Gamboa flubbed a breakaway lay-up with around a minute to go. In the Maroons’ last possession, Gamboa also bricked an open three-pointer, paving the way for Javier's heroics.
"Anybody who had the ball has the chance to be a superhero," Zamar said. "We played with the head and the heart for 40 minutes."
With the loss, the Fighting Maroons are officially eliminated from the Final Four race for the 15th straight season.
UE 79 - Sumang 20, Javier 20, Santos 10, Belleze 9, Sumido 8, Duran 6, ALberto 2, Hernandez 2, Flores 2, Villarias 0, Olayon 0, Galanza 0
UP 76 - Silungan 16, Ball 14, Padilla 12, Soyud 10, Gamboa 8, Manuel 6, Lopez 4, Hipolito 4, Montecastro 2, Mbah 0, Romero 0, Gallarza 0, Asilum 0
Quarter-scoring: 17-19, 37-40, 66-58, 79-76