The University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons kept on rolling after they slipped past the Far Eastern University Tamaraws, 73-70, in the UAAP Season 84 men's basketball tournament on Tuesday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Tied at 70-apiece, UP rookie Zavier Lucero showed nerves of steel as he scored to go-ahead bucket, draining a midrange jumper for a 72-70 UP lead with 1:26 remaining.
The Fighting Maroons had several chances to put the game on ice but missed free-throws by Malick Diouf, Carl Tamayo, and Harold Alarcon gave FEU an opportunity to tie the ballgame. However, FEU could not capitalize as RJ Abarrientos missed both of his three-point attempts down the stretch.
“Yung defense namin, especially nung third quarter doon pumick-up so doon namin nakuha yung confidence then tuloy-tuloy na hanggang dulo,” said Fighting Maroons head coach Goldwin Monteverde.
UP has now won eight in a row after opening the season with a loss to Ateneo de Manila University. At 8-1, the Fighting Maroons are just behind the Blue Eagles for the top spot in the league.
Ricci Rivero tallied a game-high 19 points to go with five rebounds and two assists for UP.
Tamayo, the pride of Talisay City, added 14 points, six rebounds, and three blocks, while CJ Cansino had 12 points.
Emman Ojuola unleashed 16 points on 16 shots with 14 rebounds, three steals, and two blocks as the Tamaraws slid to 3-6 after their third-straight defeat.
Red-hot UP will seek its ninth consecutive win on Thursday against Adamson University at 4:30 pm. FEU will aim to end its skid at 12:30 pm against National University.