University of Santo Tomas moved within a win of a title payback against Ateneo.
Peeling away in the final two minutes, the Tigers tripped Ateneo, 82-76, to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three finals of the Philippine Collegiate Champions League Tuesday at Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
Kevin Ferrer shot a perfect 9-of-9 from two-point range to lead the Tigers with 18 points against the Blue Eagles, who broke their hearts in last month’s UAAP finals.
The Tigers also pulled off the Game 1 victory even minus head coach Pido Jarencio, who contracted German measles.
“There was big pressure because we played without a head coach,” said UST assistant mentor Estong Ballesteros. “But our players held on until the end. They didn’t give up and our defense keyed our win.”
The Tigers, who got swept by the Blue Eagles in two games in the UAAP title series, will shoot for a sweep and their first tournament crown at 4 p.m. tomorrow.
Earlier, San Beda outlasted Southwestern University, 64-56, in their knockout duel to claim third place honors.
Karim Abdul had 12 points and seven rebounds for the Tigers, who rose from a 70-73 deficit by outscoring the Eagles, 12-3, in the final two minutes.
Jeric Teng also shot 12 and dished out five assists, while Aljon Mariano and Melo Afuang combined for 21.
The Tigers pulled ahead with an 8-0 spurt, 78-73, before Ryan Buenafe kept the Eagles’ bid alive by nailing a triple, 78-76, with 17.4 seconds left.
But the Tigers stayed in command with Teng and Mariano knocking in four foul shots in the dying seconds.
SAN BEDA 64—Pascual K. 14, Dela Cruz 12, Amer 12, Caram 11, Pascual J. 8, Koga 5, Dela Rosa 2, Mendoza 0, Ludovice 0.
SOUTHWESTERN 56—Mbala 16, Aboude 11, Nalos 11, Arong 6, Guillena 5, Ortuyo 3, Goloran 2, Bregondo 2, Dedace 0.
Quarters: 12-8, 28-26, 49-49, 64-56
UST 82—Ferrer 18, Abdul 12, Teng 12, Mariano 11, Afuang 10, Fortuna 9, Daquioag 4, Vigil 2, Pe 2, Bautista 2.
ATENEO 76—Buenafe 15, Tiongson 13, Slaughter 12, Gonzaga 12, Ravena 11, Salva 8, Elorde 3, Golla 2, Pessumal 0, Chua 0, Porter 0, Capacio 0.
Quarters: 20-19, 39-42, 60-58, 82-76