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UP Maroons survive late fourth quarter drought to win another overtime classic over Ateneo

UP guard JD Cagulangan takes a three-point shot against Ateneo in the UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball tournament at Mall of Asia Arena. UAAP PHOTO

JD Cagulangan always feels a different kind of fire in him every time University of the Philippines (UP) plays Ateneo.

“It’s really different when we play Ateneo. With the big crowd cheering for both teams, it has a similar feeling of playing in the finals,’’ said Cagulangan after helping the Maroons shoot down the Blue Eagles in overtime, 76-71, in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament Sunday night before more than 12,000 roaring souls at Mall of Asia Arena.

He also gets a different feeling every time their mastery of the Eagles is extended.

Cagulangan, the cold-blooded executioner whose championship-clinching three ended Ateneo’s reign last season, was far from being 100 percent yet in the latest installment of this classic rivalry, but he made sure his playmaking chores carried the Maroons to a 4-1 record, tied for a share of the lead with National University.

“You will really give everything you’ve got against Ateneo. It’s all about playing with a big heart,’’ said Cagulangan, who drilled two threes with one ending in a four-point play to finish with seven points.

Carl Tamayo also proved his worth in another cliffhanger after scoring six of his game-high 20 points in extra time, including a three-point play triggered by Ange Kouame’s goaltending that put the Fighting Maroons ahead by five inside the final two minutes.

“I’m relieved today that we played better as a team. We really got tested, but the good thing about it was we stayed together as a team on both ends,’’ said UP coach Goldwyn Monteverde.

Forthsky Padrigao pulled the Eagles within two with a triple that bounced off the rim prior to trickling in, before Tamayo and Malick Diouf cemented UP’s win with freebies.

“I’m thankful for the trust of my teammates. They made an effort to hand me the ball and push me to make those shots even though I struggled early,’’ said Tamayo after the Maroons repeated over the Eagles in a replay of their championship match.

Dave Ildefonso had 22 points and 12 rebounds, but his flubbed three in the dying seconds didn’t help their cause.

Padrigao, who forced the extra period with a three off a Kouame screen with 36.7 seconds remaining in regulation, fired 15 points on top of four rebounds and four assists.

It was the third overtime triumph by the Maroons in their head-to-head with the Eagles, who dropped to 3-2 in a tie with La Salle and University of the East (UE).

Two of those nail-biting overtime thrillers came in the Finals last year.

“UP was disciplined in the end. We made a couple of silly turnovers, we have a couple of possessions to really win the game and we didn’t execute,’’ said Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin. “And those are the things that championship teams don’t do, so it requires being fixed.”

In the other match, University of the East banked on a dizzying third-quarter blitz and the ejection of Adama Faye to topple University of the Santo Tomas (UST), 78-68.

Luis Villegas had 17 points and 13 rebounds in a breakout performance, but it was the needed spark from Frederic Antiporda in the third that propelled the Red Warriors to notch their second straight win.

“I’m grateful to my teammates. They were persistent with me. I just let the game come and it worked out,’’ said Villegas after the Warriors moved up in a tie for fourth with the 3-2 La Salle Green Archers.

After swishing a pair of threes, Antiporda’s fadeaway jumper widened the gap that the Warriors protected before Faye compounded matters for the Growling Tigers.

Faye elbowed Harvey Pagsanjan on the head in a rebound, prompting the referees to throw the UST bigman out of the court late in the third with UE ahead by six.

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