MANILA, Philippines – Aljon Mariano led a third-quarter surge by University of Santo Tomas as it trounced Adamson, 88-64, on Monday to complete the PCCL Final Four cast at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
Mariano played a perfect third period, scoring 12 of his game-high 20 points, on four-of-four shooting from the field.
“Maganda opensa at depensa namin,’’ said UST head coach Pido Jarencio. “Hindi naman namin ine-expect na makakapasok kami dito sa Final Four. Kahit papaano maganda performance ng team (Both our offense and defense were good. We did not expect to make it to the Final Four. But the team performed well).”
The Growling Tigers broke loose from a one-point game early in the second half to build a double-digit lead entering the payoff period, 58-45.
The Falcons, whose seven-game winning streak got snapped, suffered a huge blow when their main offensive weapon Jericho Cruz fouled out after picking up an offensive foul and a technical foul in succession with still 3:20 left in the third quarter.
Adamson, which beat San Sebastian, 88-79, on Sunday behind Cruz’ 37-point explosion, couldn’t get into any groove on both ends in the final frame as UST continued its onslaught to build a 25-point lead, 86-61.
Clark Bautista caught fire from long range, unloading three triples, including back-to-back treys that pushed the Tigers’ lead to 19, 74-55, with 5:05 left.
UST joined five-time UAAP champion Ateneo, three-time NCAA champion San Beda College, and Cesafi champion Southwestern University in the semifinals which starts on Wednesday.
Next up for the Tigers is a UAAP Finals rematch with the Blue Eagles in the main game at 4 p.m.
Eric Camson paced the Falcons with 17 points.
Adamson center Rodney Brondial was carried out of the court on a stretcher after hurting his knee as he was going for the loose ball at the 3:17 mark of the second quarter. He returned in the third period and looked fine to finish with four points and eight rebounds.