MANILA -- University of the Philippines placed one foot on a Final Four spot in the UAAP men's basketball competition after yet another close win, this time at the expense of National University, 80-77, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on Wednesday.
The Fighting Maroons stifled the Bulldogs in the first half, holding them to just 25 points, including 11 in the first quarter.
That turned out to be enough for UP even as NU inched closer in the second half when their offense began to pick up.
The Bulldogs actually had a chance to force overtime, but Shaun Ildefonso misfired a last-second triple that sealed the win for UP.
Kobe Paras made 19 points, four rebounds, six assists, one steal, and one block for UP, now at 8-4, which can officially claim a semifinal seat with another win, or a loss from either Far Eastern University or La Salle.
The Tamaraws stalled the Fighting Maroons' outright Final Four entry with a 63-60 win against the Adamson Soaring Falcons in the second game.
FEU maintained a double-digit lead for most of the first half, but the team had to deal with an endgame push by Adamson before eventually rendering its opponent scoreless for the remaining 1:45 of the game to hold on.
Wendell Comboy, LJay Gonzales, and Ken Tuffin each scored 11 points for the Tamaraws, which officially eliminated the Soaring Falcons from Final Four contention while bolstering their hold of the fourth spot in the team standings at 7-6.
The Green Archers, on the other hand, are playing the UST Growling Tigers as of posting.
UP 80 -- Paras 19, Akhuetie 16, Manzo 14, Ju. Gomez de Liano 11, Rivero 8, Webb 5, Ja. Gomez de Liano 4, Prado 3, Gozum 0, Jaboneta 0, Murrell 0, Tungcab 0.
NU 77 -- D. Ildefonso 24, Gallego 20, Oczon 12, S. Ildefonso 10, Gaye 6, Joson 2, Minerva 2, Galinato 1, Clemente 0, Diputado 0, Malonzo 0, Mangayao 0, Rangel 0, Yu 0.
Quarters: 13-11, 32-25, 56-51, 80-77.
FEU 63 -- Comboy 11, Gonzales 11, Tuffin 11, Bienes 6, Stockton 6, Nunag 5, Ebona 4, Tchuente 4, Torres 3, Alforque 2, Cani 0.
ADAMSON 60 -- Ahanmisi 10, Douanga 10, Fermin 10, Lastimosa 9, Camacho 6, Manlapaz 5, Sabandal 4, Mojica 3, Yerro 2, Chauca 1, Bernardo 0, Magbuhos 0.
Quarters: 22-12, 43-31, 50-41, 63-60. (PNA)