JETT Manuel scored what turned out to be the winning shot before cramps took the fight out of him in the last 25.3 seconds.
The 6’2” Manuel top-scored with 16 points but spent the remaining time sitting on the floor at the right side of the bench, his head wrapped in a towel, emotional and in tears as the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons went on to upend the Adamson Soaring Falcons, 70-63.
When the buzzer sounded, his teammates reached out to him and gave him a big hug as the Fighting Maroons went on to post their third triumph in nine games in the 79th University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball tournament yesterday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“I was telling him that if he wants to be the leader of the team, he has to take those crucial shots. He was able to do that. In the end, it was a turnover waiting to happen and he was able to get that shot,” said UP coach Bo Perasol.
Paul Desiderio also added 16 points for UP, while teammate Javier Gomez de Liano hit 13.
Manuel, a fifth year shooting guard, struck while Soaring Falcons defender Sean Manganti was in front of him, giving UP a 69-63 cushion in the remaining time.
Jarrel Lim then padded their advantage to seven in the last three seconds with his charity.
Pappi Sarr led with 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Soaring Falcons, who fell to fourth with their 4-5 card.
The Fighting Maroons took the unfamiliar route of taking charge after overcoming 9-20 deficit in the first half.
They secured the lead, 30-29, at halftime, and with a 15-6 blast, UP moved ahead by 10, 45-35, off Jerson Prado’s layup.
The Falcons stayed close off Manganti’s triple and two charities, 63-67, with 1:16 left.
Meanwhile, Allen Trinidad banged in 16 points for the defending champion Far Eastern University Tamaraws in their 59-48 swamping of the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers.
Raymar Jose contributed 9 points, and added 14 rebounds for the Tams, who marched to their sixth straight victory and firmed up their hold on second spot at 7-2.
2 p.m. La Salle vs UP
4 p.m. NU vs UST