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The UP Fighting Maroons deny Ateneo de Manila University of season sweep in UAAP with a high-five celebration on the court.

UP Fighting Maroons denies Ateneo de Manila University of season sweep in UAAP

The University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons denied the reigning champions Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles of a season sweep with a scintillating 84-83 win in the UAAP Season 84 men’s basketball tournament on Sunday night at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

The loss was Ateneo’s first since October 18, 2018, when they fell to Far Eastern University, 60-63. Since then, the Blue Eagles have rattled off an astounding 39 straight wins before bowing to UP on Sunday.

Because of the Fighting Maroons’ win, a traditional Final Four will start on Wednesday as Ateneo (13-1) will face fourth seed Far Eastern University at 6 pm.(7-7). UP (12-2) will battle third-ranked De La Salle University at 2 pm.(9-5).

The top two seeds will have a twice-to-beat advantage.

Up by as much as 18, UP suddenly went cold in the fourth and Ateneo took advantage to take an 81-77 lead. The Fighting Maroons, though, kept their composure and regained the lead after two free-throws by Malick Diouf and a three-pointer from James Spencer with 43.6 seconds left.

Ateneo answered with a putback by Dave Ildefonso for an 83-82 lead but UP guard Ricci Rivero fished a foul on a drive to the rim, and canned two from the charity stripe to put the Maroons back in front, 84-83, time down to 22.2 ticks.

The Blue Eagles then went to SJ Belangel for a triple but missed it as Diouf secured the board and was sent to the line. Diouf missed both but grabbed the board to seal the win.

Carl Tamayo

“Winning against Ateneo siyempre is a big achievement for us,” said UP coach Goldwin Monteverde. “One thing good for me kanina, yung team namin stayed as team no matter how close the game was.”

Diouf had a monster game of 18 points, 16 rebounds, four assists, a steal, and a block.

Carl Tamayo chalked up 16 points while Spencer got 12 points, six rebounds, and three assists.

CJ Cansino, who already had 11 points at the time, was stretchered out of the court with less than a minute remaining in the third quarter after a collision mid-air that saw him suffer a dislocated patella. He was able to go back to the bench but was not fielded back the rest of the way.

Ange Kouame led the Blue Eagles with a monster double-double of 21 points, 17 rebounds, four assists, three steals, and three blocks.

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