UP opens UAAP hoopfest with win over UE

Dennis Acosta
By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITYSome tagged UP as a dark horse for this UAAP season.

The Fighting Maroons showed them they are right.

UP began the UAAP men’s basketball tournament with 62-55 win over UE in a rematch of last year’s opener at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Saturday.

After a highly-physical first quarter expected of both teams’ defense-oriented style, the Fighting Maroons began making their shots in the second, making 18 points and led, 29-25, at the half.

They threatened to pull away in the third, opening an eight-point advantage at the end of the quarter, 45-37.

But the Red Warriors opened the fourth with back-to-back baskets to come to within four, 41-45.

Gelo Vito then sizzled later in the period, scoring three triples in a row to cap an 11-2 run to up the lead to 13, 56-43, with 4:37 remaining.

UE had one final push, trimming the gap to four, 59-55, with 20.8 seconds left, but UP held on to the lead, sealing the win with three charities for the final tally.

Vito led the Fighting Maroons, who won in a season opener for the first time since 2011, with 11 points, making all but one of his five field goals.

Edson Batiller had a game-high 17 markers for the Red Warriors, but he went only 1-of-9 from the free throw line. They actually made only 11 of 28 charities.

Box Scores:

UP 62-Vito 11, Moralde 8, Desiderio 7, Manuel 7, Dario 6, Prado 6, Amar 4, Longa 4, Asilum 3, Kone 3, Juruena 2, Gallarza 1, Harris 0, Jaboneta 0, Webb 0

UE 55-Batiller 17, Javier 10, Palma 6, Manalang 5, Abanto 4, De Leon 4, Charcos 2, Gagate 2, Sta. Ana 2, Yu 2, Varilla 1, Derige 0, Gonzales 0

Quarterscores: 11-7, 29-25, 45-37, 62-55