Fierce Tigers pip Warriors
It could have been a perfect round for University of Santo Tomas.
But rather than dwell on the what-ifs, the Tigers saw how that lone loss sparked an incredible UAAP first-round run, capped by a composure-testing 83-76 victory over University of the East Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“If we didn’t lose against NU, we wouldn’t be like this,” UST’s newly minted star Ed Daquioag said in Filipino. “It woke us up because we used to relax.”
The Tigers wound up just a basket away from a sweep as the Bulldogs got away on a lucky fadeaway shot by Alfred Aroga for a 55-54 decision last month.
But it no longer mattered for the Tigers—who already surpassed their measly total of five wins last season—as they finished No. 1 with a 6-1 record.
“We’re more prepared this year,” said UST coach Bong dela Cruz. “We’ll come out fighting every game.”
Far Eastern University also joined the Tigers on top after outlasting defending champion NU, 61-59, in a rematch of last year’s Finals.
“Before the game, we said this is just another game we need to play correctly,” said FEU coach Nash Racela. “We weren’t thinking we were playing the defending champion.”
And Mike Tolomia also played like it was just another game for him as he stepped up at crunch time yet again to finish with 19 points.
Just like the Tigers, Daquioag emerged as one of this season’s surprise performers.
Daquioag exploded for a season-high 34 points, 12 in the fourth quarter that helped the Tigers foil the Warriors’ rally.
But Dela Cruz said it was just what he expected from his veteran guard. “I’m no longer surprised with Ed’s performance,” he said. “I saw it last summer. It’s just natural for him.”
On top of the points Daquioag poured in—one on a tough layup that cushioned the Tigers’ lead, 76-71, with 51.3 ticks left—he kept his teammates on an even keel against the surging Warriors.
UST 83—Daquioag 34, Ferrer 14, Vigil 14, Abdul 9, Sheriff 5, Lee 5, Lao 2, Abdurasad 0, Bonleon 0,Caunan 0, Faundo 0, Garrido 0, Subido 0.
UE 76—Varilla 25, Javier 12, De Leon 8, Palma 8, Batiller 5, Charcos 5, Sta. Ana 4, Abanto 3, Derige 2, Gagate 2, Manalang 2, Gonzales 0, Penuela 0, Yu 0.
Quarters: 26-12, 44-33, 60-56, 83-76
FEU 61—Tolomia 19, Belo 9, Pogoy 7, Escoto Ru. 5, Arong 4, Jose 4, Orizu 4, Tamsi 4, Trinidad 3, Escoto Ri. 2, Comboy 0, Ebona 0, Holmqvist K., Holmqvist S. 0, Iñigo 0.
NU 59—Aroga 17, Alolino 10, Neypes 10, Alejandro 7, Javelona 4, Morido 4, Abatayo 3, Salim 2, Tansingco 2, Diputado 0, Javillonar 0.
Quarters: 13-11, 29-34, 45-40, 61-59