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Behind Desiderio's hot game, UP stuns La Salle

UP's Paul Desiderio find the best time to set a new school record, firing 30 to beat the champions.
By Kevin Estrada

PASAY -- Fuelled by their fellow Iskos and inspired by their hot shooting from beyond the arc, UP stunned defending champions La Salle, 98-87, in the second of the men's basketball doubleheader Saturday evening at the MOA Arena.

With his fiery hands that torched the nets of the arena, UP skipper Paul Desiderio notched a career high of 30 points, with 2/3 of it was scored in the middle quarters for the Fighting Maroons who jumped over the Green Archers despite tying them at 3-1 by the virtue of the win-over-the-other rule.

Fellow Cebuano guard Jun Manzo backed him up with 17 for State U who fell behind by 14 early into the game.

Ben Mbala reset his UAAP career high by 2 points but it went down the drain, with the supporting cast went missing in action in the final frame, with only Andrei Caracut (15pts) and Ricci Rivero (12pts) the only other Green Archers who went in double figures.

UP torched the MOA nets on a 46% shooting from beyond the arc which was a huge chunk of their 47% clip across the floor with Desiderio leading the way with 6.

The Fighting Maroons had to sweat the W as La Salle take the opening chapter by nine, with the reigning UAAP MVP leading the way with 16 of their 27 points.

Mbala's massive performance in the opening period forced them to make a drastic change in their defence: shutting down his supporting cast.

And it did huge wonders, limiting the Green Archers to just 16 points in the next 10 minutes and held Aljun Melecio and Kib Montalbo to just 2 points all half long.

The much awaited debut of Rob Ricafort came at the 7:48 mark of the second period and made an instant impact on the floor, with his hustle defence do the trick to stymie La Salle's gunners.

Ricafort's first basket in the league gave the Maroons a four-point cushion heading into the break.

Then Desiderio went lights out in the following period, firing four triples for 13 third-quarter points as UP bucked an early 7-0 La Salle run to lead by just a single point.

And the Cebuano gunslinger, whose confidence was overflowing since their opening day win against Santo Tomas, had infected his teammates as well, with Felix Jaboneta and Jun Manzo have combined for 15 fourth-quarter points to dealt La Salle its first loss of the year.

The Scores

UP 98 -- Desiderio 30, Manzo 17, Juan Gomez De Liaño 10, Javi Gomez De Liaño 10, Quattara 6, Lim 6, Jaboneta 5, Romero 4, Ricafort 2

La Salle 87 -- Mbala 34, Caracut 15, R. Rivero 12, P. Rivero 9, Melecio 5, Montalbo 5, Santillan 5, Paraiso 2

Quarter Scores: 18-27,47-43, 66-65, 98-87

Follow him on Twitter: @KevinLEstrada