The University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons rode the heroics of rookie forward Zavier Lucero to take down the De La Salle University Green Archers, 61-59, in the UAAP Season 84 men’s basketball tournament on Thursday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Lucero scored 11 of his 21 points in the fourth, including a left-handed layup that gave the Maroons the lead for good with 1:49 remaining. He also had 14 rebounds—nine of the offensive variety—to go with two steals and a blocked shot. He also connived with Joel Cagulangan on a decisive 14-4 run that turned a 45-52 deficit to a 59-56 lead with 3:27 to go.
La Salle had a chance to tie the game but forward Michael Phillips missed a layup as time expired.
“I felt halos buong game, maybe first hanggang third quarter, we struggled offensively,” said UP coach Goldwin Monteverde. “Good thing, especially in the fourth quarter, talagang nag step up ang defense namin. I thought Carl (Tamayo) played really good defense against Baltazar in the fourth.”
The win was UP’s fourth in a row to give them a 5-1 mark, placing them in solo second place right behind the unbeaten Ateneo Blue Eagles.
Cagulangan had all his five points in that game-changing run to go with seven assists, five rebounds, and two steals against five turnovers.
The Green Archers dropped down to 4-2 at the third spot. Justine Baltazar and Evan Nelle tallied 13 points apiece for the Green Archers with the former chipping in 10 rebounds.