Ricci Rivero is taking part in for lots, and so is Malick Diouf.
And so they took College of the Philippines (UP) alongside for the experience because the Maroons pulled out what many thought wouldn’t occur in Season 84 of the UAAP males’s basketball event.
With Diouf exhibiting that he belongs on the identical ground as naturalized Filipino Ange Kouame, and Rivero highlighting his closing collegiate season by sinking two pressure-packed free throws to seal an 84-83 win, the Maroons on Sunday ended Ateneo’s 39-game successful streak to color a brand new image that this yr’s championship is a toss up in spite of everything.
“That wasn’t actually all me, it was actually God,” Rivero mentioned of his two free throws within the closing 22 seconds that put the Maroons up and save them from the embarrassment of getting blown an 18-point lead within the first half which might have made UP the largest footnote in one other Ateneo sweep.
“I’ve at all times believed in Ricci ever since, and I actually belief him,” coach Goldwyn Monteverde, who earned praises from Ateneo counterpart Tab Baldwin, mentioned. “I believe he is aware of it, and the crew additionally trusts him in that type of scenario. I do know he may do issues for the crew.
“He’s courageous and he has the boldness.”
Diouf, in the meantime, greater than held his personal in opposition to the celebrated Kouame, ending with 18 factors and 16 rebounds—together with the board off an SJ Belangel miss that prevented Ateneo from taking one closing crack at an outright Finals berth for the second straight season.
“That was a great sport all of us loved, the enjoyment was there. We simply adopted the directions of the coach,” mentioned the 6-foot-11 Diouf, who shot 6-of-7 from the sector, had 4 assists, one block and a steal. “We play our system and we defended very nicely. The offense additionally was nice, in order that’s it. I’m so completely happy proper now.”
Kouame didn’t play dangerous in any respect. He had 21 factors, 17 rebounds, 4 assists, three blocks and three steals, however was nowhere close to what would have been the game-winning play for the Eagles.
Diouf mentioned his focus wasn’t on stopping Kouame. He mentioned he was desirous to cease all of the 5 Eagles on the ground if given the possibility.
“After I play, I don’t take into consideration the match-up in opposition to Ange. I used to be taking part in in opposition to Ateneo. Ange is an effective participant, however I used to be taking part in for the UP neighborhood,“ mentioned Diouf. “That’s why I defend all of the 5 gamers contained in the courtroom, not solely Ange.”
The UP win cast a daily Closing 4 with the top-ranked Eagles to battle No. 4 Far Jap and No. 2 UP to slug it out with third-seeded La Salle, needing to win simply as soon as to seal what can be an attention-grabbing title sequence. INQ
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