The UP Fighting Maroons shocked the FEU Tamaraws, taking a three-point lead at halftime and growing it in the second half. The Maroons were even able to shrug off several Tamaraw rallies, thanks in part to mental errors on FEU's part: a delay of game call on Jens Knuttel, a technical foul on Bert Flores for stepping on to the court, and of course, Mark Bringas' second unsportsmanlike foul, all of which helped pad UP's lead, as they got the 76-63 upset over last season's runners-up. Sophomore Jett Manuel's 20 points beat out the 17-point output of Season 72 MVP RR Garcia, as Manuel led three other Maroons in double figures. (Recap here)
What's at Stake:
- The Tamaraws (4-4) are one-third of a three-team tie for third place, but they got there thanks to a three-game slide that started with their loss to this team, before an elimination round sweep by the Ateneo Blue Eagles. FEU needs to get back on track with a win here, otherwise, they may find themselves overtaken by DLSU and UST, the other two 4-4 teams.
- Ironically, the Fighting Maroons (2-6) have been on a three-game slide since this game as well, as they dropped a sweep to the UST Growling Tigers, and absorbed a blowout by the Adamson Falcons. They at least seemed more competitive in their second outing against UST last Sunday, and really, after a 0-14 season, 2 wins are already a big improvement.
FEU Player to Watch : With Sentcheu out indefinitely, likely even out for the rest of the season, Russel Escoto will likely see an uptick in minutes, though for sure, it's not a move head coach Bert Flores is thrilled about. While Escoto lent some offensive punch, 15 points total, in the two games versus FEU, he's a horrible rebounder, averaging just two a game despite his 6'5" height.
UP Player to Watch : UP's three-game skid coincides with drops in production from both Jett Manuel and Jelo Montecastro. The duo normed 24.6 points in their first five games, but their production has been cut in half since then to just 12 a game. Both were instrumental in that win over FEU, so it's possible that they'll rediscover their groove in this game.
Prediction: FEU Tamaraws