UAAP: Malick Diouf returns, propels UP past UE and into Final Four
MANILA, Philippines — Malick Diouf was hardly bothered by a wrist injury as he led University of the Philippines past University of the East, 79-72, and into the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball Final Four on Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The reigning UAAP Most Valuable Player, who sat out in their 88-79 loss to La Salle three days ago due to a sprained right wrist, returned with his right hand heavily taped but still dominated with 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting, 15 rebounds and five steals.
His last steal against Ethan Galang with only 14 ticks to go sealed the Fighting Maroons’ ninth win in 11 games.
“It’s good to be in the Final Four first. But I think we haven’t achieved anything. We have to be ready, we have to prepare well and finish first the second round [before] thinking about the Final Four and [secure] the twice to beat,” Diouf said. “Thank you because this is a blessing to be in the Final Four. Happy for this win.”
The Red Warriors held their own against the Maroons with Jack Cruz-Dumont’s triple knotting the count at 69 with 3:47 remaining. Dumont hit another 3-pointer that pulled UE within one, 73-72, heading into the final minute.
JD Cagulangan, who also returned from a hamstring injury, made a crucial lob to Francis Lopez for a 75-72 cushion. Cagulangan then hit three of the last four points from the free throw line as UP became the first team to clinch a Final Four berth this season.
CJ Cansino contributed 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting for the Maroons while Cagulangan finished with nine points, eight assists, and four rebounds. Lopez chipped in eight points and eight rebounds, while Gerry Abadiano also scored eight points.
“We were just looking for a bounce-back game after losing the last one. There are things to improve especially in the second half wherein there were stretches where we were flat. A win is a win and it’s a much-needed win after a loss. Just like what the coaches say, it’s back to the drawing board for us,” said UP assistant coach Christian Luanzon, speaking for Goldwin Monteverde.
UE saw its two-game winning streak snapped, sliding to 4-7 in sixth place as Dumont’s season-high 19 points went for naught.
Precious Momowei had 14 points and 15 rebounds for the Red Warriors. Noy Remogat had 12 points, 10 assists, and seven rebounds, while Abdul Sawat added 11 markers.
UP (79) – Diouf 19, Cansino 17, Cagulangan 9, Lopez 8, Abadiano 8, Alarcon 4, Torres 3, Pablo 3, Felicilda 2, Torculas 2, Belmonte 2, Alter 2, Fortea 0.
UE (72) – Cruz-Dumont 19, Momowei 14, Remogat 12, Sawat 11, Maglupay 4, Galang 4, Tulabut 2, Lingolingo 2, Cabero 2, Gilbuena 2.
Quarterscores: 17-21, 43-38, 60-55, 79-72