UAAP: UE Red Warriors rise up to challenge of beating a contender

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Kyle Paranada and the UE Red Warriors. –UAAP PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — University of the East coach Jack Santiago challenged the Red Warriors to prove that they belong to the league by slaying one of the top teams in La Salle.

The Warriors responded to their coach’s challenge with brothers Kyle and Nikko Paranada sinking the big shots in crunch time to upset the Green Archers, 81-74, for their second win in the UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball tournament on Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena.

“The last time UE beat La Salle was in 2019. We have a chance to play against strong teams. That’s why I challenged them in the dugout earlier, to be part of this season, we beat a big team like La Salle,” said Santiago after frustrating the Green Archers, who were coming off a big win over the Ateneo Blue Eagles last Sunday.

“And they did it, that’s why I’m so happy and proud of the boys.”

Down by eight points in the payoff period, Kyle Paranada scored 13 of his 20 points in the final six minutes to end a three-year dry spell. The last time UE beat La Salle was when Rey Suerte sank a game-winner for an 89-88 victory last September 14, 2019.

Santiago lauded his wards for slowly adapting to his system, which is almost the same as La Salle coach Derick Pumaren’s system, after earning their second win in four matches — surpassing their winless Season 84.

UE guard Kyle Paranda leads the Red Warriors to latest UAAP win. –UAAP PHOTO

UE guard Kyle Paranda leads the Red Warriors to latest UAAP win. –UAAP PHOTO

“I just told my players, to be part of the top four teams, we have to level up as a team. Especially we’re facing La Sale, maybe, I would say, the system that we are having right now is almost the same as Manong Derick. I’ve been an assistant coach of Franz Pumaren for how many years, and I’m just continuing the system of Coach Franz,” he said.

Santiago said the Red Warriors were inspired after National University ended a seven-game skid to defending champion University of the Philippines.

“I just instructed my boys to be part of the history. Especially in the game earlier, NU beat UP, so maybe my players were inspired to be part of the history also. We gave our all to beat the La Salle team,” the UE coach said.

After pulling off an upset against a Final Four contender, UE remains hungry for more wins as it battles University of Santo Tomas (1-3) on  Sunday.

“As I always say, we need to beat a strong team to be recognized. Not only to be recognized but to level up their game. We have to sustain games like that,” Santiago said. “Hopefully, we can carry our win over La Salle next game against UST on Sunday. Right now the import of UST is playing well, so we need to play defense on him.”

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