by Adrian Taningco

Fans pay tribute to UP guard Miggy Maniego, who played his last game as a Maroon against UE. JOSHUA MARK DALUPANG

The University of the Philippines ended the 74th UAAP season by suffering a 54-68 defeat to fellow cellar dwellers University of the East Red Warriors Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The defeat allowed UE to leapfrog UP in the standings, condemning the Maroons to yet another last-place finish in the UAAP basketball tournament.

UE forward Ebraim Enguio, who played his final game, led the Red Warriors with 18 points. Adrian Santos and Jan Michael Noble contributed 12 points each for UE.

Veteran guard Miggy Maniego, who also played his last college game, paced UP with 14 points. Backup big man Mark Juruena was the only other Maroon in double figures with 12 points.

“It’s disappointing not to end on a high,” Maniego said of his farewell collegiate game.

The Maroons began the game with an 11-2 run, but UE promptly answered with Enguio’s nine quarter points as the first quarter ended, 18-18.

Turnovers, though, continually blighted UP as they committed 16 in the first half, leading to 18 points for UE. This allowed the Red Warriors to build an 11-point lead by halftime.

UE would keep UP at bay in the second half, with the Maroons never getting closer than six points. The Red warriors put it beyond reach with their own 11-2 run to end the game.

The Maroons finished the season with a 2-12 win-loss record, a two-win improvement over last year’s winless campaign.

Coach Ricky Dandan acknowledged that while there was progress, next year will bring more challenges brought by a different line-up, one without the graduating guards Maniego and Mike Gamboa.

“Best of luck [sa kanya], at tutulungan ko sya however I can,” Dandan said of his departing senior guard.

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