UAAP finals: UP on cusp of title, rallies to stun Ateneo in OT

University of the Philippines’ Zavier Lucero chases down a shot in Game 1 of the UAAP Season 84 men’s basketball finals at Mall of Asia Arena. UAAP PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Zavier Lucero and Ricci Rivero willed University of the Philippines to a come-from-behind victory over defending Ateneo, 81-74, in overtime and move on the cusp of the UAAP Season 84 men’s basketball championship on Sunday at Mall of Asia Arena.

Down 68-60 in the final two minutes of the payoff period, Lucero, who went 0-of-9 in their do-or-die final game against La Salle and missed his first four shots in the first two quarters, scored seven straight points to cut down the lead to 70-67 before James Spencer delivered the game-tying triple.

The Filipino-American forward also drilled a corner triple in overtime that tied the game at 74 with 3:46 remaining.

Rivero also stepped up when it mattered most in the extra session, giving the Fighting Maroons a 77-74 edge off a three-point play and making a crucial steal that led to Carl Tamayo’s lay-up for a 79-74 breather.

The graduating guard then, blocked Ange Kouame with 44 seconds to go before he sealed UP’s first Finals win since 1986 with two free throws.

The Fighting Maroons try to dethrone the Blue Eagles on Wednesday at 6 p.m.

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