Tigers in growling form again | Inquirer Sports
Wild Card

Tigers in growling form again

Just when University of Santo Tomas was being dismissed as a shaky title prospect, the Tigers pulled off another singular feat in Season 78 of the UAAP basketball tournament last Friday.

The only conqueror of Far Eastern University this season completed a victory double over the Tamaraws to boost the España-based dribblers back into the championship picture after losing two of their last two games, the last a 91-77 rout from the University of the East Warriors.

The Tigers not only improved on their earlier 72-71 conquest of the Tamaraws, but they finished mightily with an 85-76 triumph after trailing by 14 points in the first half behind Karim Abdul, Kevin Ferrer and Mario Bonleon, who sizzled coming off the bench in the last quarter of the eagerly awaited rematch between the league’s first two semifinalists.

While the Tamaraws remained on top with a 10-2 win-loss slate, the Tigers kept second at 10-3 with both teams assured of at least a playoff for a twice-to-beat bonus reserved for the top two Final Four teams.

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Ateneo stayed alive in the race for the semifinal incentive by getting back at arch rival La Salle, 73-62, Sunday to raise its record to 9-4, even as defending champion National University took the inside track in the fight for the last Final Four berth by rolling back University of the Philippines, 75-69, earlier in the day.

The Bulldogs officially moved up to fourth at 6-7 with the Archers dropping to 5-7 going into the last three playing dates of the tournament.

The big disappointment was UE, which was expected to press NU and La Salle for the last semifinal berth after its explosive win over UST.

Showing none of their superb stand against the Tigers, the Warriors fell in an ambush by the Adamson Falcons, also last Friday, and dropped to 4-9.
The cellar-dwelling Falcons picked up only their third win in 13 games.

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The second UST-UE game last week stirred back memories of our early days as sportswriter in the 1970s after Warrior Paul Varilla “lost his bearing” and opened the contest with a layup on the enemy’s goal.

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Varilla’s gaffe was first counted as a UE basket before it was rectified, but the “bonus” basket hardly mattered as UST played listlessly throughout.

We saw a similar shot at the wrong goal while also covering another UAAP game back then but this one came in the end and decided the contest.

We tried hard but couldn’t fully recall all the details of the incident, although we clearly remembered the principal character—Domingo Fortu of Adamson.

Fortu had earlier committed a foul in the act of shooting that gave the other team a chance to salvage a win in the dying seconds of the game.

Frustrated no end, Fortu obviously wanted to redeem himself as he outjumped everybody to grab the rebound of the second free throw miss.

After dribbling the ball once, Fortu jumped again, turned in midair, and banked in the shot to doom Adamson.

As pandemonium broke out, Fortu raised his right fist in a gesture of triumph but his jubilant roar turned into a whimper when his dismayed teammates mobbed him in disbelief.

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I haven’t seen a bigger basketball goat since.

TAGS: Basketball, FEU Tamaraws, Karim Abdul, Kevin Ferrer, Mario Bonleon, UAAP, uaap season 78, UST Growling Tigers

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