MANILA (UPDATED) — University of the Philippines dominated National University to secure the top-seed heading into the Final Four.
The Fighting Maroons crushed the Bulldogs, 79-57, at the UAAP Season 86 Men’s Basketball Tournament on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Francis Lopez was the Fighting Maroons’ leading scorer after he tallied 13 points, while Malick Diouf and CJ Cansino scored 11 markers each.
These helped UP clinch the top-seed for the first time ever in the Final 4 era.
The Fighting Maroons improved to 12-2, and they will be waiting for the result of the playoff for fourth place between the Adamson Soaring Falcons and the Ateneo Blue Eagles.
UP opened the game by scoring 10 straight points while also disallowing the Bulldogs to score in the first four minutes of action.
State-U used this momentum to lead by as much as 14 late in the second quarter.
The Bulldogs were able to get as close as seven, 42-35, after a jumper by Kean Baclaan at the 7:29 mark of the third. But this was the nearest that they could get as UP charged on a huge final frame run that resulted in them establishing a 77-52 after a Mark Belmonte conversion late in the same quarter.
Meanwhile, the Jeff Napa-mentored squad, who fell to 10-4 and will enter the semifinals as the third seed, will be facing the DLSU Green Archers who are now officially in the semis as the second seed. La Salle holds a twice-to-beat advantage.
They were led by Jake Figueroa’s 15 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, three steals, and two blocks, while Jolo Manansala contributed 10.
UP 79 -– Lopez 13, Diouf 11, Cansino 11, Felicilda 9, Torculas 7, Cagulangan 6, Gonzales 6, Alarcon 4, Pablo 4, Belmonte 3, Torres 3, Briones 2, Abadiano 0, Fortea 0, Alter 0, Gagate 0
NU 57 -– Figueroa 15, Manansala 10, John 7, Yu 6, Baclaan 3, Yu 3, Malonzo 2, Enriquez 2, Jumamoy 2, Palacielo 2, Gulapa 2, Padrones 0, Parks 0, Galinato 0, Delos Reyes 0
Quarterscores: 23-13, 42-30, 58-45, 79-57.