By Mikhail Franz Flores

UE Red Warrior veteran Paul Lee drives against UP Fighting Maroon Alvin Padilla and ended his team's losing skid in the 73rd UAAP season, 59-54. (Christine Anne Penalosa)

Playmaker Paul Lee notched a crucial three-pointer with 17.7 seconds left to the clock to lead the University of the East Red Warriors to their first victory in the season

The UE Red Warriors pulled off  a 59-54 victory over the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons in their UAAP Season 73 basketball match at Araneta Coliseum on Saturday.

Lee finished with 23 points, seven boards, three assists, and two steals as the Warriors posted their first victory after five games while UP remained winless in five outings in their battle for the first win.

“When UP ran zone in the final seconds, I was left open in the three-point area,” Lee said after the match.

“It’s been a while. I almost got used to losing already,” said UE coach Lawrence Chongson on the Warriors’ first victory.

Rookie Mike Silungan organizes the Maroons' game plan on court as he tallied season-high 20 points in their game against the UE Red Warriors Saturday at the Araneta Coliseum. (Christine Anne Penalosa)

On the other hand, rookie Mike Silungan led the Maroons with 20 points including three straight lay-ups and a step-back three-pointer late in the third quarter as UP blew the Warriors’ 29-21 halftime lead and posted a 40-33 lead over UE before Lee poured in a three-point buzzer beater that trimmed the lead to four.

UP continued their run early in the final period as Silungan sank a three and Carlo Gomez scored a lay-up off a pass from Silungan but the Warriors shifted the game’s momentum in their favor after Lee and Paul Zamar notched three baskets from beyond-the-arc and pulled away with a 59-54 lead.

“There is no one to blame for this loss. They did their job today,” said UP coach Boyet Fernandez of the Maroons who played without Woody Co who sat in the bench after a torn muscle in their match against FEU last week.

The Maroons will face defending champion Ateneo on Thursday, who in turn defeated the National University Bulldogs in the second game yesterday, 82-65.

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