By Dion Mikhail Fetalvero

PHOTO: Manila Bulletin

Down by as much as 13 points in the first half, the UP Fighting Maroons stirred a third-quarter storm to cruise past the UST Growling Tigers, 98-82, on Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

This is the Fighting Maroons’ first-ever victory in the UAAP Season 84 men’s basketball scene after losing to the Ateneo Blue Eagles, 81-90, just three days ago.

The recent UP win is partly thanks to the collaboration between Xavier Lucero and Ricci Rivero, whose games proved to be vital in UP's 17-1 table turner.

UST dictated the pace early on, however, Filipino-American recruit Lucero scored six straight baskets during the third quarter, while 6-foot-1 Rivero bagged two free throws to lead UP’s winning effort 62-56.

UP even upped the ante in the fourth quarter, peaking at a 21-point lead with an easy layup from 23-year-old Rivero, 88-67.

In the end, Rivero tallied 19 points, three rebounds, and two assists, while Lucero scored 18 markers in just 22 minutes of playtime.

After their recent victory, UP head coach Goldwin Monteverde credits their hard-fought win to the team and their pivotal plays.

“I think in the first [quarter], UST already had five three-pointers. Credit to the boys, because their defensive adjustment in the second half was great. They were very active and intense,” Monteverde said.

Sherwin Concepcion led the Growling Tigers’ losing effort after banking on 19 points, two steals, and one block, while Joshua Fontanilla and Nicael Cabanero combined for 33 points.

In the other game, Tyler Tio led the Ateneo Blue Eagles to its 28 straight winning streak after drubbing the FEU Tamaraws, 79-70, the same day.

The Atenean senior guard initiated the third quarter crusade with eight straight points, for a total of 17 points in the third quarter.

The lead even ballooned to 63-42 with a three-pointer from Tio at the last 2:32 of the frame.

Dave Ildefonso scored 17 points for Ateneo, while BJ Andrade and Angelo Kouame combined for 18 points.

The next set of games for the UAAP Season 84 men’s basketball will be on March 31, Thursday. The schedule comes as follow:

• 10 AM – Adamson vs Ateneo
• 1 PM – FEU vs La Salle
• 4 PM – UP vs NU
• 7 PM – UE vs UST

Edited by Jostle Pilayre