Tigers close in on Final 4 slot
University of Santo Tomas may have gotten another big scare from National University, but for coach Bong dela Cruz, what’s more important is how the Final Four is now within reach for the Tigers.
“Every practice, every game, our target is to improve,” said Dela Cruz.
The Tigers are now just a win shy of a semifinal berth after avenging their lone loss to the Bulldogs with a 65-57 triumph in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament Saturday at Mall of Asia Arena.
“We really said we’ll get back at them,” said UST star Kevin Ferrer, who helped the Tigers arrest the Bulldogs’ late run for a double-double finish of 13 points and 10 rebounds.
“We got hurt with that loss,” said Ferrer of the Tigers’ stinging setback to the Bulldogs, 55-54, in the first round. “We really doubled our effort.
Things also looked better for Ateneo with Kiefer Ravena back in his lethal element in the Blue Eagles’ 87-72 ripping of Adamson.
“A lot of people were really questioning my shooting percentage,” said Ravena, who redeemed himself with 20 points on a notable 50 percent shooting clip. “With the help of [the coaches], they helped me pick my spots, put me in a position where I’m comfortable.”
Ravena also flirted with a triple-double with 11 assists and eight rebounds, but it’s the rest of his teammates’ performance that proved to be the highlight for Ateneo coach Bo Perasol.
“We were shaky in the beginning but we were able to get our groove when some of the players coming off the bench really played exemplary,” said Perasol, who credited Aaron Black, Gwyne Capacio, Vince Tolentino and Isaac Go.
“That’s what really important for us right now—those who can help Kiefer in his production. That’s really a welcome development for us.”
The Eagles, too, got a boost in the standings as they snapped a two-game skid to climb to a share of third at 5-4, behind the league leading UST and FEU, who are tied at 8-1.
The Eagles next take on the streaking Tigers, who only need one more win for a return trip to the semifinals after missing out last season.
“We’re all doing our part for us to win,” said Ferrer, who teamed up with Louie Vigil, Ed Daquioag and Karim Abdul in the Tigers’ fiery finish.
The UST veterans fueled the Tigers’ 10-2 windup after the Bulldogs rallied to wrest the lead, 55-54, behind Gelo Alolino with four minutes to go.
ATENEO 87—Ravena 20, Pessumal 17, Black 14, Capacio 13, V. Tolentino 6, A. Tolentino 4, Ikeh 3, Gotladera 2, Ma. Nieto 2, Mi. Nieto 2, Wong 2, Go 2, Apacible 0, Babilonia 0, Cani 0.
ADAMSON 72—Sarr 16, Tungcab 12, Garcia J. 11, Nalos 10, Polican 9, Ochea 8, Garcia C. 4, Ng 2, Fernandez 0, Margallo 0.
Quarters: 22-19, 50-41, 79-58, 87-72
UST 65—Abdul 13, Ferrer 13, Daquioag 10, Bonleon 8, Vigil 8, Lao 7, Lee 6, Faundo 0, Sheriff 0, Subido 0.
NU 57—Alolino 20, Aroga 14, Alejandro 7, Javelona 6, Diputado 4, Celda 2, Salim 2, Tansingco 2, Abatayo 0, Javillonar 0, Morido 0, Neypes 0.
Quarters: 20-14, 35-23, 51-40, 65-57
For the complete collegiate sports coverage including scores, schedules and stories, visit Inquirer Varsity.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.