ALJON Mariano sparked University of Santo Tomas’ second-half breakaway as the Tigers clobbered Adamson, 88-64, to clinch the last Final Four berth of the Philippine Collegiate Champions League yesterday at Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
Mariano, shooting a perfect 4-of-4 from the field in the third quarter, pumped in 12 of his game-high 20 points in the pivotal period to help the Tigers pull away for good.
“We played a defined game,” said UST coach Pido Jarencio. “We played aggressive both on offense and defense. The boys really wanted to win.”
UST now gets a chance to somehow avenge its loss to Ateneo in the recent UAAP finals when they collide at 4 p.m. at the start of the round-robin Final Four tomorrow.
Three-time NCAA titlist San Beda and Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) champion Southwestern University clash in the first game at 2.
The top two teams at the end of the semifinals will battle in a best-of-three title series.
Jeric Teng had 15 points and Kevin Ferrer also had 12 for the Tigers, who took advantage of a couple of unlucky breaks that hit the Falcons.
Adamson’s sensational rookie Jericho Cruz fouled out in the third period just a day after exploding for a career-high 37 points in the Falcons’ 88-79 upset of defending champion San Sebastian.
Rodney Brondial also got sidelined for a lengthy period after straining his knee.
Earlier, Far Eastern U-Diliman nipped Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu, 73-69, in a benefit series featuring high school champions.
First Game (Jrs)
FEU 73—Pingoy 24, Delfinado 12, R. Domingo 10, J. Domingo 8, Escoto 6, Lee Yu 5, Palacio 4, Belgica 2, Palana 2, Magbuhos 0, Lumba 0, Completo 0, Hassan 0, Domingo 0.
SHS-ATENEO 69—Ochea 19, Galvez 16, Jaboneta 13, Padilla 7, S, Senining 6, Laguyo 4, Araw-Araw 2, Cercado 2, Doyon 0, Huang 0, Competente 0.
Quarters: 13-15, 29-32, 49-51, 73-69
UST 88—Mariano 20, Teng 15, Ferrer 12, Fortuna 11, Bautista 9, Abdul 5, Lo 5, Daquioag 3, Vigil 2, Villar 2, Haingan 2, Afuang 2, Pe 0, Garrido 0.
ADAMSON 64—Camson 17, Cabrera 16, Cruz 10, Abrigo 7, Monteclaro 5, Brondial 4, Agustin 2, Julkipli 2, Cabigas 1, Mendoza 0, Trollano 0, Petilos 0, Rios 0, Bernabe 0.
Quarters: 16-10, 34-28, 58-45, 88-64