JOEL Cagulangan nailed the game-winning triple in the final 0.5 seconds of overtime as University of the Philippines dethroned Ateneo, 72-69, to end a 36-year title drought in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament last night before 15,132 fans at the Mall of Asia Arena.
This season’s comeback kids, the Fighting Maroons annexed their third title overall and the first since 1986, while ending the Blue Eagles’ three-year reign.
Ateneo was poised for a four-peat after holding a 69-64 lead with 1:34 left when Cagulangan, a prized rookie from La Salle Greenhills, took charge in UP’s 8-0 finishing run.
Cagulangan made a three-pointer and assisted Malick Diouf’s dunk to tie the game at 69-69 with 39.7 seconds remaining setting the stage for the thrilling ending.
Senegal’s Diouf, who was named the Finals MVP, had 17 points and nine rebounds to lead the Maroons.
“We worked for it and we achieved,” said Diouf.
Goldwin Monteverde thus become the first rookie coach to win the championship right in his first year since coach Aldin Ayo did the the trick for La Salle in 2017.
He also duplicated Franz Pumaren’s featin 1998, the first year of the Green Archers’ four-peat and Pido Jarencio for University of Santo Tomas in 2006.
“Sobrang tuwa ko. Sobrang saya ko talaga. I’m very honored to coach UP,” said Monteverde, who took over last year.
All the sacrifices that the Maroons made since they opened the bubble training last December paid off to end the Diliman-based squad’s thirst for the championship.
“I’m really proud of what we achieved,” said Monteverde. “I want to thank the UP community. I also want to thank the Lord God for this championship.”
“We are truly blessed to have a championship under coach Gold,” said basketball program director Bo Perasol, who turned UP around when he steered the squad to the Finals in 2018 before losing to Ateneo.
CJ Cansino, in his only game in the Finals after sitting out due to bone bruise on his right knee, had 14 points, including a three-pointer that sent the game into overtime at 59-59, while Cagulangan had eight of his 13 points in the extra period for the Maroons.
“Sobrang sarap, wala akong masabi. Champion na kami. Sobrang sarap talaga,” said Cagulangan, a native of Butuan.
The loss negated SJ Belangel’s 27-point explosion and season MVP Ange Kouame’s 12-point, 12-rebound double-double effort for Ateneo. By Theodore Jurado