University of the Philippines comes back from 14 points down to beat La Salle and book UAAP finals ticket

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THE University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons completed one of the most improbable comebacks in recent UAAP history, rallying from a 14-point deficit in the last seven minutes to upend the De La Salle University Green Archers, 78-74, in their winner-take-all Final Four match on Friday night and make their way to the UAAP Season 84 men’s basketball finals.

At the helm of the stirring comeback was Talisay City native Carl Tamayo. Battling foul trouble all game long, the lithe 6-foot-7 forward came alive and scored 12 of his 19 points in the fourth canto, including the Fighting Maroons’ last nine points. He added 10 rebounds, four steals, and three assists in a performance that will rang true across the hallowed halls of Diliman.

"Actually halos buong game we were struggling," said UP head coach Goldwin Monteverde, who replaced Bo Perasol late last year. "It led until the last four minutes but we never gave up, 'yung overcoming adversity. Sa totoo lang, 'di ko maano what I'm feeling right now eh. Going into this game, everyone just decided that we were gonna fight until the end."

The win forged a best-of-three finals series against the reigning champions Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles. UP is fresh off an 84-83 win against Ateneo, a victory that stopped the Blue Eagles' 39-game winning streak on the last day of the elimination round.

Game One of the UAAP Finals is on Sunday, May 8, at 4 p.m.

The Green Archers finished the third quarter up by 13, thanks to a 7-0 closing blast by Mark Nonoy and Schonny Winston, 64-51.

Down by 14 in the fourth canto, the Fighting Maroons unleashed a 13-1 run, capped by Malick Diouf's jumper, to pull his side to within two with 2:08 to go, 69-71.

Mike Phillips made a layup for DLSU on the other end but Carl Tamayo answered back with four straight points for UP to knot the game at 73 with 1:30 left.

After missed plays from both squads, Phillips was fouled with 32.2 seconds left, sending him to the line where he split his freebies to give the Green Archers a one-point lead, 74-73.

Off a timeout, Tamayo drove past Justine Baltazar for a layup and the foul, which he coolly made the bonus free-throw, to give the Fighting Maroons a 76-74 lead with 21.5 ticks on the clock.

Evan Nelle then took the shot for La Salle but his floater rimmed out as Tamayo secured the rebound and he was fouled with 7.6 seconds remaining. The rookie then iced the game from the charity stripe.

Diouf chipped in 14 points, 17 rebounds, four steals, and two blocks, while Harold Alarcon kept the Fighting Maroons afloat early with 14 points, six rebounds, two steals, and a block.

UP finally halted its five-game skid in the playoffs dating back to Season 81 where it got swept by Ateneo in the Finals.

Schonny Winston's 26-point explosion went for naught for the Green Archers. Phillips was an energy bunny, as usual, with 10 points to go with 17 rebounds and two blocks.

In his final UAAP game, Baltazar struggled with just nine points on a 4-of-13 clip from the field. He also had eight rebounds, four assists, three steals, and a block against four turnovers. (JNP)

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