UAAP: 'No hesitation' for UP's Spencer on OT-forcing triple

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 09 2022 01:58 PM

UP's James Spencer hit the three-pointer that forced overtime against Ateneo de Manila University in their UAAP Season 84 Finals Game 1. UAAP Media.
UP's James Spencer hit the three-pointer that forced overtime against Ateneo de Manila University in their UAAP Season 84 Finals Game 1. UAAP Media.

MANILA, Philippines -- James Spencer is making a habit of hitting big three-pointers against Ateneo de Manila University.

In their elimination round encounter last May 1, Spencer drilled a clutch three-pointer with 43 seconds left that helped the University of the Philippines (UP) claim an 84-83 win -- ending Ateneo's 39-game winning streak in the process.

In Game 1 of the UAAP Season 84 finals, the UP swingman nailed the biggest shot of the game -- a three-pointer with 25.2 seconds left that knotted the count at 70, and wound up forcing overtime.

"It was a designed play by Coach Gold (Monteverde)," Spencer said afterward.

He had curled off a screen and found himself open some distance from the three-point line, but did not hesitate to rise for the three-pointer. Ateneo's Chris Koon got a hand up as Spencer made his attempt, but had little impact.

"Honestly, I was just thinking, my shot's feeling good, have no hesitation on the catch," Spencer said. "If no one's near me, then I'm just gonna let it fly, and I let it fly."

The Fighting Maroons went on to complete the upset in overtime, outlasting Ateneo, 81-74, to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-3 series. Spencer finished with 13 points, making three of his four attempts from long distance.

After the game, Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin said that Spencer's big three-pointer was a credit to the stout defense that UP had played, particularly down the stretch of the game.

The Blue Eagles took an eight-point lead in the fourth quarter but UP mounted a furious comeback behind the offensive rebounding of Zav Lucero, before Spencer hit the biggest shot of the game.

"James hits that shot partly just because he feels so positive about the way their defense is playing. If they're concerned, worried, it's a lot tougher to shoot that shot," Baldwin noted. "But even though they were down 3, they had the initiative."

"You see players do that quite often when the team is on a roll. Shots go in that might not normally go in. So you just have to give credit to the whole team," he added.

"That shot that James hit, he hit it, but that was a team bucket, spurred on by the momentum that their defense gave them."

UP can claim its first UAAP title since 1986 in Wednesday's Game 2 at the Mall of Asia Arena.