UAAP: Late Paul Desiderio triple propels Fighting Maroons past UST, 74-73

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Photo courtesy Marie Dobuyan

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 10) — The University of the Philippines (U.P.) Fighting Maroons took home a dramatic win over the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers, 74-73, in their opening assignment of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 80.

Paul Desiderio paced the Katipunan-based squad with 17 markers, while Gelo Vito chipped in with nine of his own.

There was no separation going into the final frame, with the two teams locked at 57-all.

With U.P. cradling a 68-64 cushion, they received a boost after UST import Steve Akomo fouled out of the game with 3:18 left to play.

Despite the absence of their import, the España-based squad managed to go ahead, 70-68, with 1:20 left on the clock.

Desiderio drew level for U.P. before Noah Webb grabbed an offensive rebound and drained a free throw to give the Maroons a 71-70 lead with 32.6 ticks remaining.

Not to be outdone, Jeepy Faundo tied the ballgame once again at 71-all, before Marvin Lee gifted the Growling Tigers the 73-71 advantage again with a pair of charities with 5.3 left to play.

With time running out, Desiderio came up big for the Fighting Maroons by burying a three-point bomb that sealed the win with 1.1 remaining on the clock.

That was enough to see U.P. come away with their first win of Season 80.

Lee and Akomo paced UST with 20 and 15 markers, respectively.

Prior to his late game heroics Desiderio was struggling from beyond the arc, but that did little to dissuade him from taking the biggest shot of the game.

"Ang dami ko nang tinira e, sabi ko mahihiya pa ba ko? Last shot na," Desiderio said in the post-game press conference. "Sabi ko sa sarili ko na papasok 'to. Nag-timeout pala si Coach Bo, sabi ko sa kanila na pag open ako ibigay niyo kasi ititira ko talaga."

(Translation: I had several shots in already, will I hold back? I told myself this will  go into the basket. But Coach Bo called for timeout. I told them if I'm open I'll go for the shot.)

U.P. hopes to build on its opening day win when they take on the Ateneo Blue Eagles on Wednesday, while UST will fight for its first win of the season against the Adamson Soaring Falcons on Saturday.