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UP whips La Salle, books first UAAP final four ticket in 21 years


The UP Fighting Maroons are headed to the final four. Zeke Alonzo
The UP Fighting Maroons are headed to the final four. Zeke Alonzo

The University of the Philippines will be in the final four of the UAAP men's basketball tournament for the first time in 21 years.

The Fighting Maroons ended their Season 81 elimination round schedule with a rousing 97-81 victory over De La Salle University on Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena.

The victory pushed UP's final elimination record to 8-6, guaranteeing it a spot in the semifinals of the competition for the first time since 1997.

La Salle also finished with an 8-6 record. While idle Far Eastern University could also end up with the same slate in its final assignment against Adamson, UP is assured of a playoff ticket due to its superior quotient over the Green Archers and the Tamaraws.

The final four appearance marks a remarkable turnaround for the Fighting Maroons, who have embarked on a massive buildup of its basketball program since winning just two games in three seasons from 2012 to 2014.


Juan Gomez De Liaño came up big once against for UP. Zeke Alonzo
Juan Gomez De Liaño came up big once again for UP. Zeke Alonzo

The Fighting Maroons raced off to a fast start, taking a 52-29 advantage at halftime. UP kept La Salle at bay the rest of the way to seal the win.

Sophomore budding star Juan Gomez De Liaño led UP with 27 points off the bench, while his older brother Javi chipped in 19. Most Valuable Player candidate Bright Akhuetie had another monster statline with 16 points and 20 rebounds.

Aljun Melecio led the fight for the Green Archers with 19 points. —JST, GMA News