Tigers tame Tamaraws in double OT thriller
UNIVERSITY of Santo Tomas found game heroes at every turn to down Far Eastern U, 79-78, in double overtime yesterday to keep its Final Four bid alive in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Karim Abdul took over from Clark Bautista and Aljon Mariano and emerged as the biggest UST hero by completing a three-point play for 79-76 with 32.3 seconds left before blocking the potential game-winner by Mac Belo in the dying seconds of the second extension.
The Tigers, who seemed out of the semifinal race last week, climbed to fourth at 6-5 with their second straight victory while the Tamaraws dropped out of top spot for the first time this season.
Looking like a finals shoo-in after a 7-0 sweep of the first round, the Tams slipped to second at 8-4 behind National University (8-3).
In the second game, De La Salle repeated over archrival Ateneo, 66-64. (See story on A23)
“It was all about the players,” said UST coach Pido Jarencio. “They did not give up. The effort, desire and heart that I’ve been looking for [in previous games] were all there.”
Mariano knocked in a triple with 4.9 seconds to forge the first overtime, 62-62, and Bautista nailed another three-pointer with 10.9 ticks left that extended the game for another extra period, 70-70.
Abdul wound up with 24 points and 12 rebounds to pace three Tigers who came out with double-double performances.
“It’s all about our heart and will to win,” said Abdul. “In the first round I was inconsistent. But I wanted to change and help the team. I wanted to do everything I can to help the team win.”
Mariano collected 21 points, 11 boards and eight assists, while Kevin Ferrer also had an all-around outing of 15 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and a couple of steals.
The Tigers pulled off the win even minus top gunner Jeric Teng, who sustained a hamstring injury just days after recovering from a shoulder injury that sidelined him for a month.
“Our morale was down, so this is a big boost to our team and our standing,” said Jarencio, whose Tigers battled back from as many as 12 points down, 25-37, in the second half.
The Tamaraws looked set to take their second double overtime win in eight days after erecting a 76-72 lead behind Belo’s six straight points in the second extension.
But the Tigers responded with seven straight points, capped by Abdul’s decisive three-point play.
“We didn’t hit our open looks, like Terrence (Romeo) and RR (Garcia) missed some shots which they normally make,” said FEU coach Nash Racela.
The Tamaraws had a chance to win the game in the first overtime, but league officials ruled that Mike Tolomia’s putback off Romeo’s missed three-point attempt failed to beat the buzzer.
Racela said there’s no reason to panic even if his Tamaraws now look vulnerable after skidding to their fourth loss in five games in the second round.
“It’s not alarming yet,” said Racela as his Tamaraws missed a second try to secure at least a playoff for a Final Four slot. “I don’t want to put pressure on the players.”
UST 79—Abdul 24, Mariano 21, Ferrer 15, Lo 8, Bautista 6, Pe 2, Daquioag 2, Sheriff 1, Lao 0.
FEU 78—Romeo 19, Belo 15, Mendoza 13,Garcia 8, Hargrove 6, Cruz 6, Tolomia 5, Pogoy 4, Sentcheu 2, Jose 0.
Quarters: 10-16, 21-32, 43-44, 62-62 (reg.), 70-70 (1OT), 79-78 (2OT)
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