UAAP: UST turns back La Salle to grab solo fourth
MANILA, Philippines – Jeric Teng chose the best time to break out of his season-long slump.
Teng bailed UST out off another end game meltdown as he unleashed back-to-back treys and the Tigers tripped De La Salle, 60-52, Thursday at the 74th season of the UAAP men’s basketball tournament.
The junior two-guard, who has been out of step this season, found his sweet spot at the top of the key for the clutch triples which stretched UST’s lead to five with two minutes left.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment. It’s a breakout game for him. He has found the rhythm and the flow,” said UST’s wisecracker coach Pido Jarencio of Teng, who finished with 14 points, including two free throws with 7.3 ticks.
It may not have been UST’s best offensive game this season, but it was the intangibles that bouyed the final-four hopeful to its fifth win with five losses, and a solo fourth spot.
“I try to look at it as one game at a time, but yes, this is a big win for us,” added Jarencio, as the Growling Tigers moved one full game ahead of the Green Archers in the standings.
UST also snapped a seven-game losing streak to La Salle dating back to 2007.
Jeric Fortuna, the Growling Tigers’ best player, though, could not find his range all game as he missed all of his eight attempts from beyond the arc and made only 2-of-10 from the two-point area.
But the senior playmaker, running fourth in the MVP race, made his minutes count down the stretch as he spotted an open Teng twice for the timely kickout.
Fortuna also blizted his way for a finger roll with 14 seconds remaining which virtually sealed UST victory.
“We help each other out in our team. When someone is stuggling, somebody else will step up. We’re all important pieces,” said Teng.
The Growling Tigers owned the Green Archers in the paint, 63-41, built on 32 offensive boards but could not fully capitalize as they only led by 15, and which UST easily squandered.
La Salle, which tied with National University at fifth with 4-6, banked in on a 12-2 run to kick off the fourth quarter to stay close to UST.
The diminutive shooter Almond Vosotros sparked the comeback with two treys, even as Sam Marata added seven points in the payoff period.
The Green Archers, who never got the taste of the lead, came as close as 48-50 with three minutes to play before Teng scored one of his two three pointers.
Marata finished with 11 points, while Vosotros had eight.
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