MANILA, Philippines—Championship-level composure was on display in University of the Philippines’ 80-76 overtime win against Far Eastern University in the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball tournament at Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday.
And who better to star in the thrilling blockbuster than Fighting Maroons’ reliable big man Malick Diouf, who finished with 11 points including clutch buckets in OT that went along with 20 rebounds.
The Season 85 MVP pulled through down the stretch to push the Fighting Maroons to an undefeated record after four games.
“It’s always an advantage when you’re playing in your last year because even though Malick tasted a title already, he has that chip on his shoulder… any player you ask, they want to go out the right way. That’s what he’s trying to achieve,” said assistant coach Christian Luanzon.
“One thing that coach Gold (Monteverde) would always say is to get to that [level], we have to play like champions, in terms of performing as a team, moving individually and as one.”
SCHEDULE: UAAP Season 86 basketball first round
WATCH: The Francis Lopez shot in regulation that could’ve counted if it wasn’t for Malick Diouf’s tip in that didn’t beat the game clock. #UAAPSeason86 | @MeloFuertesINQ pic.twitter.com/IBdG4coqRo
— INQUIRER Sports (@INQUIRERSports) October 11, 2023
Diouf accidentally botched what would’ve been the game-winning turnaround jumper from Francis Lopez with 1.7 seconds left as he tipped the ball after the time had run out, sending the game into overtime at 68.
“I think it was like 1.7 seconds left so we were just trying to do something. Coach just gave instructions and we just tried to make it. When I saw Francis take the shot, I saw it looked like it was going out so I just touched it to see what the referee might call,” explained Diouf.
Like any other heroic movie, though, Diouf would make up for his mistake in regulation with clutch buckets down the stretch.
The score was tied at 73-all in the extra period until the latest Collegiate Press Corps’ Player of the Week sank two straight daggers that put UP ahead, 77-73, with a minute and 42 left in the game.
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Playing the role of supporting actors for the Fighting Maroons were Janjan Felicilda and CJ Cansino, who scored 17 and 14 points, respectively.
Jorick Bautista scored a game-high 26 but to no avail. LJ Gonzales had a near double-double with 19 markers and nine boards in a losing effort for FEU, which went down to 0-4 for the season.