The Maroons shoot down the Blue Eagles to start the title series

UP's Zavier Lucero led the Fighting Maroons' attack in Game 1 of the UAAP men's basketball final.  –UAAP PHOTO

UP’s Zavier Lucero led the Fighting Maroons’ attack in Game 1 of the UAAP men’s basketball final. –UAAP PHOTO

Zavier Lucero knocked out the biggest man in the ring on Sunday night and placed the University of the Philippines (UP) in a position to validate the title UAAP won last season in the tightest ways.

Lucero quelled a brief stab from Ange Kouame in the waning seconds, helping the Maroons beat Ateneo 72-66 in Game 1 of the UAAP Season 85 Grand Finals in front of a combination of 18,211 screaming fans. blue and maroon outfits at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Then, Lucero announced what to do next, the same way he does when the pressure is at its peak in the series opener.

“It’s great, but to be honest, there’s another game (game to win) ahead of us,” said Lucero, who stopped 6-foot-10 Kouame below with 32 seconds remaining to thwart the opponents. Ateneo’s final counterattack. “As soon as that whistle blew, we had to move on and focus on preparing for the next game.”

“That I was in the right place at the right time. It was a team effort that we showed tonight,” added Lucero, who is expecting a sweep of the Maroons this time around.

Lucero stands out, sure, but he’s not alone in lifting heavy.

Harold Alarcon fired two crucial triples — the first igniting a massive UP run midway through the fourth round with which the defending champions defended the rest of the run. Another trio put them ahead by 10 points.

J.D. Cagulangan and Cyril Gonzales also contributed to the Eagles’ difficulties, such as Player of the Season (MVP) Malick Diouf as the Maroons moved closer to retaining the title they won in three games last season. also before Ateneo.

“This is it for this season, there is no other way but to leave it on the floor. I’m glad we all came together as one and did our best,” said Lucero, who finished the game with 14 points and 11 rebounds after his two crucial saves.

“We hope to eliminate this with a good margin. If we can avoid any hero [like in last season’s Game 3] that would be nice. But close or not, we will be ready for it. We have to be ready and calm in that challenge and be able to come out on top no matter what,” Lucero said.

“This is a great opportunity [having a chance to sweep]so we have to catch it.”

Cagulangan, the hero of last season’s Game 3, scored with a pair of freebies for UP, who are looking to write history as the only team to win two championships in one year.

NU Lady Bulldogs celebrate winning the UAAP women's basketball crown.  –UAAP PHOTO

NU Lady Bulldogs celebrate winning the UAAP women’s basketball crown. –UAAP PHOTO

The Maroons exploded into action in the first half as the season’s No. 1 breakout team soon took the lead with a double-digit advantage thanks to Gonzales, Alarcon and Cagulangan.

They managed to take the lead thanks to solid contributions off the bench in addition to efficient execution of the breaks and turning Ateneo’s costly mistakes into precious buckets.

Forthsky Padrigao’s float, Dave Ildefonso’s open triple, and another Padrigao’s long three on Lucero’s outstretched arm pulled the Eagle for five years.

A major setback for Ateneo came when Padrigao came on from the bench after injuring his right leg 3:21 in the third round.

He scored 16 points to help the Blue Eagles keep fighting, but could only return a few seconds early in the fourth inning.

Record title

Meanwhile, the National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs previously won the chance to extend their longest reign in the league after winning the women’s basketball crown for the seventh time in a row against La Salle Lady Archers.

The 76-64 win lifted the Lady Bulldogs through their best three-game series and erased the bitter taste of the only loss in ages the Lady Archers handled them over a month ago and won a streak of 106. win match.

That’s what awakened the sleeping giants as the Lady Bulldogs never gave the Lady Archers a chance, racing to an early 23-point lead without ever risking being overtaken as rookie Tin Cayabyab scored 14 over 18 points in the first half. lead the attack.

“One of the things that we won’t forget this season is the loss to La Salle,” rookie Cayabyab, who was rated as the MVP of the final, said in Filipino. “[That loss] helped us win this championship. It brought us together because we realized what we needed to do.”

NU drew the University of the Philippines as the third winning women’s team with 7 crowns, just behind the University of Santo Tomas and the Far East, 11 each.

More importantly, only the 1965-1971 Oriental University men’s team led by the enigmatic Sonny Jaworski is the only team in league history to have so many consecutive titles, something the Lady Bulldogs can aim for at next season. request

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