University of the Philippines battled back from as many as 13 points down, before pulling off an 84-77 win over Vanguard University in the semifinals of the 2019 Buddha’s Light International Association Cup in Taiwan Saturday.
Bright Akhuetie led UP with 26 points and 13 rebounds.
When it mattered most, he was backstopped by Kobe Paras whose triple and a thunderous throwdown bookended the Fighting Maroons' 10-3 run in the last two minutes to complete the comeback.
In the end, Paras wound up with 15 points and 5 rebounds while rookie guard Jaybie Mantilla and veteran wing Javi Gomez de Liano added 11 and 10 points, respectively.
With the win, UP advances to the finals of the regional tournament. The last time a Filipino squad won the title was in 2017 with La Salle.
The Fighting Maroons now await the winner between Huaquiao University and Chien Hsin University of Science and Technology.
UP 84 – Akhuetie 26, Paras 15, Mantilla 11, Gomez de Liano 10, Manzo 9, Murrell 7, Webb 3, Tungcab 3, Spencer 0, Gob 0, Jaboneta 0.
VU 77 – Wilson 14, Tolmaire 13, Gentry 13, Hayward 10, Magee 10, Moore 7, Mohammadi 5, Scherer 3, St. Leon 2, Willis 0.
QUARTER SCORES: 17-24, 34-47, 58-59, 84-77.
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