Maroons tame Bulldogs as 2nd twice-to-beat semis slot goes to Archers
MANILA, Philippines -- The twice-to-beat picture of the UAAP Season 86 is now fully set after the UP Fighting Maroons blew the NU Bulldogs out of contention for the top two spots, 79-57, Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
UP and La Salle are now holding the coveted twice-to-beat advantages, with the former sporting a 12-2 win-loss record and the latter toting 11-3 slate.
The Maroons will go to the semifinals as the top seed, the first time in team history.
NU dropped to the third spot with a 10-4 card.
As early as the first half, the explosive Maroons jumped to a 15-point lead.
It did not help that the Bulldogs were ice-cold throughout the gamae.
UP never looked back since then.
The Diliman-based squad's lead grew to as much as 25, 77-52, with a 3-pointer by Mark Belmonte in the fourth quarter.
Rookie Francis Lopez stood tall in the crucial win, finishing with 13 points, two rebounds three steals and an assist.
He was followed by Malick Diouf and CJ Cansino, who both had 11 markers.
Jake Figueroa had 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Bulldogs in the losing effort. Jolo Manansala seconded him with 10 points and seven rebounds.
UP shot the lights out the whole game, making 31 of their 64 field goal attempts, which good for 48.4% shooting.
The Maroons also dished out 22 assists.
The league leaders also stole the ball 15 times, forcing the Bulldogs to commit 22 turnovers.
UP will be facing the winner of the playoff set on Wednesday between defending champion Ateneo and Adamson.