UE Red Warriors, finally, nail victory

AFTER almost three years, University of the East (UE) is finally a winner once more after the Red Warriors beat the Arellano University Chiefs, 58-50, at the Filoil EcoOil Centre on Wednesday in San Juan.

It wasn’t only the Red Warriors’ first win in the tournament, it was also the team’s first victory since October 30, 2019 during the last eliminations game of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 82.

Behind Rey Suerte, Alex Diakhite, and Philip Manalang, UE edged National University, 79-76.

“Before, I always tell the boys ‘good game’ after every match, now I told them ‘congratulations,’” a beaming UE head coach Jack Santiago said in his first post-win interview after a 0-14 record in UAAP Season 84 and a 0-3 start in Group B of the preseason tournament.

This time around, it was Nico Paranada and Harvey Pagsanjan who showed the way.

Paranada had 17 points, four rebounds, four steals and three assists and Pagsanjan registered nine points, five rebounds and two steals to key UE’s win built around two big runs—15-2 after tip off and 18-5 in the third quarter.

The Chiefs closed in to within six, 50-56, with 34 seconds to go but the Red Warriors forced two stops and two turnovers the rest of the way.

CJ Payawal iced the emotional win for the Recto-based squad that owns 18 UAAP titles.

“Out coaches’ patience … that motivates us,” said a teary-eyed Pagsanjan after the Red Warriors send the Chiefs to their fourth loss.

Lyceum of the Philippines University, meanwhile, remained unscathed after Renzo Navarro and Vincent Cunanan led a fourth-quarter surge to rout the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers, 83-73.

Navarro finished with 12 points and nine assists, while Cunanan had 17 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals.

Navarro made seven points in the final quarter where they outscored their opponents, 23-12.

“I got mad in the first half when UST padded its lead to 13, we didn’t follow the game plan,” said Lyceum head coach Gilbert Malabanan, whose wards improved to 3-0 in Group B. “So I insisted for them to follow the game plan.”

Far Eastern University (FEU), meanwhile, charged to back-to-back wins while also keeping San Beda University winless, 82-73, also Wednesday.

Adamson University, on the other hand, remained spotless after a 68-61 triumph over feisty University of Perpetual Help.

Jerom Lastimosa led the attack with 18 points and three steals, while Vince Magbuhos and Joem Sabandal contributed 10 points apiece to help the Soaring Falcons improve to 3-0 in Group A. The Altas dropped to 1-2.