UST dethrones NU, returns to UAAP Finals
University of Santo Tomas knocked off defending champion National University, 64-55, to return to the men’s basketball finals in the UAAP Season 78 Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Louie Vigil scored 19 points on top of an all-around performance to lead the Growling Tigers to their third finals appearance in the last four years. The graduating swingman also collected 11 rebounds, seven assists, two steals and two blocks.
“The players just showed their hearts,” said UST head coach Bong dela Cruz, whose team got off to a torrid start before holding off the Bulldogs down the stretch.
Top seed UST arranged a best-of-three finals clash with No.2 Far Eastern University, a team it swept in the elimination round. The championship round begins on Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena.
Kevin Ferrer had 11 points and seven rebounds and his left baseline jumper off a crossover that had his defender Kyle Neypes tasting the parquet floor put UST on top, 48-32, with 6:40 remaining.
The Bulldogs mounted one last rally midway through the fourth quarter behind Paolo Javelona, who scored 12 of his team-high 17 points in the final frame.
The Tigers had their offense going for them but in the end it was their defense that pulled them through. UST shut down NU skipper Gelo Alolino, who had a forgettable final UAAP game with six points on 1-of-17 shooting from the field.
“We were just able to execute our defense well. We played one-on-one defense and our rotation on the defensive end was there,” dela Cruz said of his team’s defensive game plan in stopping Alolino.
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