By Jerome Lagunzad
(Mall of Asia Arena)
2 p.m. – UST vs UE
4 p.m. – FEU vs Adamson
Adamson forward Sean Manganti was tasked to make life miserable for University of the Philippines ace Paul Desiderio yesterday. In the end, he hurt the entire Fighting Maroons.
The lanky Manganti came up with go-ahead putback and a big defensive stop in the closing seconds as the Soaring Falcons outlasted the Fighting Maroons in a thrilling finish, 73-71, for their third straight win in the UAAP Season 80 basketball tournament at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Jerrick Ahanmisi led all scorers with 21 points, 17 of them coming during a sizzling offensive performance in the second period, but it was the 6-foot-5 Manganti who saved the day and ultimately helped Adamson tie idle host Far Eastern University at third spot with similar 4-2 records.
“I guess we were lucky to win the game,” said Soaring Falcons coach Franz Pumaren, heaving a big sigh of relief after his wards recovered from an early 13-point deficit and held off the Fighting Maroons in an exciting windup worthy enough of an early Final Four encounter.
“The whole game, we were struggling. We had a bad start and we made a lot of mental mistakes. We were just going thru the motions. I guess this is a good test on our part, that in the crucial moments of the game, we can survive a game like this.”
Manganti only had eight points but still showed he has steely nerves, turning a pair of misses by Ahanmisi and Cameroon big man Papi Sarr into the most decisive bucket with 1.4 seconds to play.
The former Califonia-based Chapparal High School standout followed it up with a defensive brilliance, preventing Jun Manzo’s inbound pass to Desiderio at the left flank just as time expired.
Desiderio and Manzo finished with 19 points each but the Fighting Maroons ran out of gas following a quick 19-6 start, leading to their second straight loss and an even 3-3 mark, good for fifth spot.
Adamson 73 – Ahanmisi 21, Pingoy 10, Manalang 8, Manganti 8, Sarr 6, Lojera 5, Ochea 5, Hill 4, Espeleta 4, Bernardo 2, Mustre 0, Zaldivar 0.
UP 71 – Desiderio 19, Manzo 19, Gomez de Liano Ja 8, Ouattara 8, Lao 4, Dario 3, Gomez de Liano Ju 3, Prado 3, Lim 2, Battad 2, Vito 0.
Quarters: 16-25, 43-44, 57-54, 73-71.