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UP coach stresses perfect timing for Maroons defense to finally take Blue Eagles out

MANILA, Philippines – A consistent fourth quarter game couldn’t have come at a better time for the UP Fighting Maroons.

With the Ateneo Blue Eagles coming off a huge 70-48 win over Adamson to barge into the UAAP Season 86 Final Four, they were eyeing to stamp another ticket to the finals.

But the UP Fighting Maroons stood on their path in their semis clash Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

With Ateneo trailing by two in the final quarter, 42-44, following a Mason Amos layup, UP unleashed a 7-0 run to grab a 51-42 lead with 6:08 remaining, following a Janjan Felicilda 3-pointer.

Since then, Ateneo’s next five possessions resulted in a 24-second violation and a miss from 3-point territory by Jared Brown; a short jumper by Brown; a turnover by Chris Koon; and an and-one play given to Gerry Abadiano.

The Maroons only allowed nine points in the frame for Ateneo en route to a low scoring, 57-46 win.

It is the lowest scoring output for the Blue Eagles in the season.

Additionally, UP only allowed Ateneo to make 26.6% from the field for the whole game.

UP assistant coach Christian Luanzon said that they just tried to stop the “fluid” Ateneo offense that has been the team’s offensive identity under Coach Tab Baldwin.

“We just wanted to make every shot hard for them. We know what Ateneo is. If there’s a word to describe the way Coach Tab has designed their culture offensively, it is ‘fluid’. It is always fluid, they always seem to find the best shot available, whether they have the best guys on the floor, or the second group, or the third group,” Luanzon told reporters in a mix of English and Filipino.

“That is what we have been emphasizing, just trying not to give Ateneo clean looks at the basket and we saw a pretty convincing, a big chunk of the sample size,” he added.

UP’s defensive pressure in the game was also lauded by the assistant coach.

“I thought it was key for us, everybody just being in sync, all throughout four quarters. Coaches always talk about consistency, and I believe, from a defensive standpoint, this is probably our most consistent fourth quarter game, especially on the defensive end,” he said.

“Couldn’t have come at a better time.”

The score at