The UP Fighting Maroons have finally removed the dreaded 0-14 record in their path as they start the UAAP Season 74 on a high note as they beat the import-less UE Red Warriors, 69-61. It was a convincing win for UP as UE never took the lead from them since the start of the first quarter down to the 4th quarter. That's the whole story of this game as UP has just ended a 2 year losing record to UE. The biggest player for the Fighting Maroons in this game was the 5'6 Mike Gamboa who sat out the whole UAAP Season 73 last year. He came out firing in this game as he led the Maroons with 19 big points, 6 assists and 2 steals.
UP managed to lead by as much as 11 points, 22-11, at the end of the 1st quarter and from then on they never looked back to UE up to the final buzzer.
Mike G, the name that his teammates gave him, had a hot shooting start. He sank 2 booming threes. He also got some valuable support from his ever reliable teammates. Their Wing Man, Mike Silungan pitched in 15 points while their savvy Shooting Guard who came from Xavier High School, Jet Manuel added 13 points. UP showed that they have a well balanced scoring in this game. They used that to protect their lead en route to winning the game. I believe that, that will be their barometer all throughout their UAAP Season 74 campaign. If they'll not score well as a team on their next assignments they might get the shorter end of the stick.
UP's role players i.e., their import Mbah and Gelo Montecastro provided the defensive presence and the intangibles in this game. Mbah grabbed several rebounds and he also challenged the shots of the Red Warriors. Gelo on the other hand showed some veteran smarts in defending against UE's top guards. UP now have a 1-2 punch. They can defend well and definitely they can score.
UE's Paul Zamar was the only bright spot for the Red Warriors as their other veterans, Erwin Duran and Lordy Casajeros struggled in this game. Casajeros showed his frustration in this when he hacked UP's hustle player, Gelo Montecastro in the dying minutes of the 4th quarter. Montecastro calmly sank his free throws to further increase their lead. To those who don't know Gelo's background, he was a transferee from the College of St. Benilde Blazers.
"The feeling is more relieved than anything else. It feels good."
That's what UP's rookie coach, Ricky Dandan uttered after the game. He was happy that his players responded to his challenge. UP will go on to face NU on Sunday.
Here are the scores from GMAnews.tv:
UP 69 — Gamboa 19, Silungan 15, Manuel 13, Gomez 9, Montecastro 5, Maniego 3, Gingerich 3, Romero 2, Mbah 0, Juruena 0.
UE 61 — Zamar 14, Noble 8, Javier 6, Santos 5, Sumang 4, Enguio 4, Sumido 4, Zosa 3, Chavez 3, Casajeros 3, Flores 3, Tagarda 2, Duran 2.
Quarter scores: 22-11, 39-31, 57-47, 69-61.