Fortuna, Mariano pace UST to a win over UPBy Celest R. Flores
MANILA, Philippines—A stifling 16-to-nothing blast completed University of Santo Tomas’ comeback in the 75-68 triumph over University of the Philippines Saturday in the 75th UAAP men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Aljon Mariano made amends for his errant showing in the first three quarters and capped the Tigers’ pivotal run with a shotclock beating trey to make it a 70-59 lead with three minutes left.
Mariano finished with 16 points and six rebounds to lead UST, which is holding on to the second spot behind Ateneo with a 9-3, despite having five miscues.
“It was a good thing Mariano picked up in the fourth quarter. He was having a bad game, he already had two turnovers,” said head coach Pido Jarencio.
But before Mariano even hit that trey, it was three straight and-one plays in just a minute which flipped the lead in UST’s favor for the first time in the second half.
Jeric Fortuna and Jeric Teng, who combined for 21 markers for the Tigers while the former notched 12 rebounds, conspired for that nine-to-nothing swing, which overhauled a 59-54 deficit to a four-point edge.
Karim Abdul struggled to nail the heavily-contested shots inside the paint, but nonetheless finished with 16 points — 10 coming from the stripe — along with 21 boards.
The Tigers took 41 shots from the stripe — but only made 25 — a problem which Jarencio vows to fix in practice, relishing another week break amid the crucial stretch.
“This team, we’re complete,” said Jarencio although his squad could still drop to third place if it doesn’t keep up the good showing in its final two assignments.
The Maroons — hoping to finish the season on a winning note — just couldn’t finish the job as they were held scoreless for at least three minutes in the final quarter.
Jelo Montecastro constantly caused problems for UST’s defense, deflecting weak passes and always securing the finish on the other end.
Montecastro paced UP, which dropped to 1-11, with 17 points off the bench along with two steals while Mike Silungan and Raul Soyud added 14 and 11 markers.
First posted 4:49 pm | Saturday, September 8th, 2012