TWO-ZERO: Maroons Up 2-0 For First Time in a Decade
Jett Manuel went on hiatus for two seasons for two reasons: to keep his academics straight, and to retrain his basketball skills in the US.
Suiting up again for the UP Fighting Maroons this season, the veteran guard did not disappoint and proved that he was worth the wait as he led his team to a 71-66 victory over the De La Salle Green Archers.
This is the first time since 2005 that the Maroons are enjoying a 2-0 record in the start of the season, and the first since nine seasons ago that they have won a back-to-back game. Incidentally, again, it was also DLSU that was on the losing end of the ’05 second victory by the Diliman squad.
Manuel had 14 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists to lead the Maroons, while Paul Desiderio and Pio Longa added 13 and 10 respectively to the collective effort of the squad which shot 41% from the floor and 32% from beyond the arc. The stats prove that the Maroons have shifted from a perimeter shooting team into a more defensive unit, as they also forced La Salle to commit 20 turnovers, and limit their snipers to a dismal 3-of-24 shooting clip.
For the Archers, Prince Rivero, Andrei Caracut and Jeron Teng combined for almost half of the entire output of the Taft ballers. Thomas Torres did not deliver with his shooting, and was corralled to only 8 points with a disappointing 2-for-12 shooting.
Coming into the second quarter with a 16-14 lead, the Maroons started clicking on all cylinders and ended the quarter with a comfortable lead, 41-28. The Archers started becoming the Archers again entering the fourth quarter, and came as close to within five points, but the Maroons proved they were a different beast this time as they managed to pull away courtesy of charity shots by Henry Asilum and Andrew Harris. An erroneous inbound pass to Jeron Teng proved to be a costly miscue that gave UP the chance to drive the nail into the coffin.
Coach Rensy Bajar and the coaching staff were once again praised for the composure and competitive spirit the Maroons displayed all throughout the game. The rookie head coach for the Maroons was quick to credit the total team effort of UP in this second straight victory, that has literally put them on the top of the standings, along with UST Growling Tigers, who just won over the FEU Tamaraws, 72-71.
The back-to-back win proves that the opening game win over UE was no fluke, and that UP is looking to write a history of their own this season.
While it is too early to tell how the season will unravel for the remainder of the first round, the Maroons are sure about one thing.
There’s nowhere to go but UP!