Defending champion University of the Philippines needed to dig deep to dispose of De La Salle University, 72-69, in the UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball opener on Saturday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
Trailing by three, Kevin Quiambao, who has been struggling all night, drilled a trey to put La Salle within two with 1:36 to go, 64-66 but Carl Tamayo and James Spencer answered back with four straight points to put UP ahead, 70-64, with 16 seconds left.
But the Green Archers were able to produce two quick points off a Mike Phillips putback on Schonny Winston’s miss with 12.2 ticks to go, 66-70.
Then in the ensuing play, Tamayo caught the inbound but the ball slipped off his arms to give La Salle the ball back which Evan Nelle translated to a triple off the board with 6.6 seconds remaining, 69-70.
Tamayo was then sent to the line with four ticks left when he drained two clutch freebies before Nelle fumbled the next play and failed to take a shot.
“Actually I just felt ‘yung defense namin mag pick-up especially noong third quarter. Malaking bagay ‘yung depensa talaga,” said UP head coach Goldwin Monteverde.
Tamayo had a monster double-double of 18 points and 19 rebounds, while Malick Diouf got nine points and 13 rebounds.
Terrence Fortea stepped up in lieu of Season 84 hero JD Cagulangan who did not play due to a hamstring injury with 15 points, nine assists, and five rebounds.
UP will look for its second straight win on Wednesday at the PhilSports Arena when it clashes with Adamson University at 1 pm.
In the other game, Nic Cabañero unleashed 33 points to give University of Santo Tomas a 69-60 squeaker over Adamson University in the UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball tournament opener at the SM Mall of Asia Arena on Saturday.
Jerom Lastimosa pulled the Soaring Falcons back within three after a triple with 56.4 seconds left in the match, 60-63.
But it was all Growling Tigers after that with Cabañero draining a jumper before Paul Manalang and Christian Manaytay drained their freebies to completely ice the game.
“It’s overwhelming kasi grabe ‘yung suporta ng Thomasian community. We’re very grateful nandiyan sila through thick and thin,” said UST head coach Bal David, winning his debut in the premier collegiate league.
Aside from his scoring which he made efficiently, going 13-of-18 from the field, Cabañero chipped in four assists, two rebounds, and a steal even though he committed nine turnovers as well.