Tigers come back anew to beat Bulldogs, 77-71, at UAAP men’s basketballBy Celest Flores
MANILA, Philippines – University of Santo Tomas has another big victory to show for its “team-to-beat” reputation.
UST, with its back against the wall for the second straight time, pulled the rug out from under favorite National University with a stunning 77-71 triumph Sunday in the 75th UAAP men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Staring at a double-digit deficit early in the fourth quarter, the Growling Tigers started blistering from downtown then seized the lead for the first time after playing catch up most of the game, en route to their second straight win.
UST unleashed three straight treys from Jeric Teng and Kevin Ferrer, then drew seven straight points Aljon Mariano, Tata Bautista and Jeric Fortuna to finally swing the game into the Tigers favor – for good.
“We had a bigger heart than them [despite them being bigger than us in height] in the second half,” said UST head coach Pido Jarencio, whose squad clawed back from 14 points down.
With Jarencio’s constant encouragement, the former rookie-of-the-year Teng finally had its break out performance this season with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
Teng knocked down his third triple to give the Tigers a 68-66 advantage with 3:11 in the fourth but was quickly neutralized by a trey from Bobby Ray Parks Jr. in the ensuing play.
Then the rest of the squad picked up where Teng left off, with Fortuna capping the run with a wild lay-in off a lucky rebound, plus the freebie for a 75-69 lead with 1:05 to go.
It was a struggle offensively, though, for most of the Tigers as Abdul only had 11 points on 5-of-14 shooting while Mariano had 10 points on 5-of-18, but they made the shots when they needed them most.
While UST improved to 2-1, the Bulldogs, who are perceived to be the top squad this season, absorbed their second loss in four games.
The reigning MVP Parks, after a first half explosion, came up short in the second half and only produced five out of his 25 total points.
NU came out firing, leading by as many as 14, 29-15, in the second quarter, but failed to complete the job.
And although every UST comeback attempt in the second half was matched by treys courtesy of NU’s Joeffrey Javillionar, Dennice Villamor and Joshua Alolino, the Bulldogs couldn’t match up with the Tigers’intensity that fuelled its final run.
Cameroonian center Emmanuel Mbe and Alolino chipped in 13 points apiece while combining for 12 rebounds while Javillonar added 11 points.