UST clips UP to grab a share of the UAAP lead; Abdul stars anewBy Celest R. Flores
MANILA, Philippines—University of Santo Tomas extinguished a fiery University of the Philippines, 68-58, to catch up with league-leaders Wednesday in the 75th UAAP men’s basketball tournament at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Unable to break the game wide open early, the Growling Tigers found a chink in the Maroons’ showing in the fourth quarter and pounded to widen the gap from 55-54 to a double-digit lead as the time expired.
“We had bad three quarters, we were lazy, that’s the truth,” said head coach Pido Jarencio. “It was a good thing we picked it up in the fourth quarter.”
Cameroonian center Karim Abdul muscled his way inside countless of times and brought in the points for UST, also capping a pivotal 7-0 run, which gave his squad a 62-54 breather with 1:17 left.
Abdul, who is expected by Jarencio to carry the Growling Tigers every game, came out on top for the second straight game with 20 points and 12 rebounds.
Clark Bautista, who knocked down his second trey in 10 tries to help stave off UP in the fourth quarter, added 12 points while Jeric Fortuna and Kim Lo combined for 21 points.
The Growling Tigers stand atop the standings along with Ateneo and Far Eastern University at 5-1, with just a game left in the first round of the eliminations.
UST held UP scoreless for at least four minutes in the payoff period, as the Maroons misfired basket after basket starting with Mike Silungang’s triple attempts.
Silungan, who had 10 points on four-of-13 shooting, kept the Maroons in the game while the Growling Tigers threatened to pull away with back-to-back treys.
But two straight muffed treys from downtown by Silungan highlighted the dry spell of UP with less than five minutes left, which was only broken by Raul Soyud’s bucket with 58.3 ticks—but was too late.
A split from the stripe from Cris Ball with 4:46 left was the last UP scored before going into a shooting slump.
The Maroons, though, stayed in the game with the Growling Tigers—even dictating the tempo and holding on to the lead at one point—but just couldn’t finish the job.
UP, which is now the only winless squad in the league following University of the East’s victory in the first game, absorbed its sixth loss.