The Games that Play Us: Putting the Fight back in the Maroons

Mike Silungan helped UP end its 18-game losing streak.
(image by Marlo Cueto/NPPA Images)

UP Fighting Maroons over UE Red Warriors, 69-61

The last time UP tasted a victory in the UAAP was when Mikee Reyes delivered a virtuoso performance at the San Juan Arena against the De La Salle Green Archers in 2009. He’s not in this season’s roster, but his spot has been taken by someone who’s even more explosive on offense.

And against the UE Red Warriors, in UP’s opening game, that man, Mike Gamboa, led the Fighting Maroons’ charge with 19 points. He was followed by Mike Silungan and Jett Manuel, who scored 15 and 13 respectively. That trio combined for 6 of UP’s 8 triples, and they took turns in leading UP to their first win after 18 straight heartbreaks.

In last season’s opening weekend, UP, despite having an impressive preseason, was blown out of the gym by the DLSU Green Archers. That loss seemed to have demoralized the Maroons so much that they played listless ball, compounded by crunch-time ineptitude and off-court distractions, and ended up with that infamous winless slate.

Mike Gamboa had a statement game against UE.
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This one win, fittingly on opening day too, erases all the negativity, and might usher in a renaissance of sorts. But the one thing stopping me from saying UP will be strong this year after such a great all-around performance is that UP’s adversary wasn’t really very formidable. Think the Philippines bashing a team like India into submission in the FIBA-Asia tourney. It would be impressive, but it doesn’t mean the Pinoys would be able to give China a run for the crown.

The real test is when UP takes on the other 6 teams – teams that, at least on paper and based on the preseason, are much stronger than UE. Despite the win, there are some lingering issues for the Maroons – they shot just 38% from the field and were outrebounded 46-37 by a considerably shorter quintet (import Alinko Mbah grabbed just 4 boards! WTH?!).

Mike Silungan has finally tasted victory in the UAAP.
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A lot of the other numbers, however, can give credence to how UP can be a menacing opponent. They shot well from the line (77.8%), had more assists, steals and blocks than UE, and forced the Warriors to commit 23 turnovers (as opposed to UP’s 16). By all indications, the Maroons have earned back the “Fighting” in their moniker, but will “fighting” be enough to get more wins? We’ve yet to see.

UP 69 – Gamboa 19, Silungan 15, Manuel 13, Gomez 9, Montecastro 5, Gingerich 3, Maniego 3, Romero 2, Juruena 0, Mbah 0
UE 61 – Zamar 14, Noble 8, Javier 6, Santos 5, Enguio 4, Sumang 4, Sumido 4, Casajeros 3, Chavez 3, Flores 3, Zosa 3, Duran 2, Tagarda 2
QS: 22-11, 39-31, 57-47, 69-61

Jett Manuel was a big spark off the bench,
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Adrian Santos and the rest of the Red Warriors could be
in for a very long season.
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Paul Zamar was the ony Warrior in double-figures.
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Click this Link for Game Highlights: UE vs UP Season 74 Round 1

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