UST averts winless season, beats UE
University of Santo Tomas avoided a winless season after pulling off an 88-85 victory over University of the East for its only victory in the UAAP Season 80 men’s basketball tournament Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Growling Tigers finally came through in the endgame, making pressure-packed free throws and a defensive stop in the waning seconds of the game.
The win gave the school something to celebrate despite having its worst UAAP season ever, ending the year with a 1-13 record.
“We’re glad that we weren’t zero [wins] and at the same time, this is part of our rebuilding process,” said UST coach Boy Sablan.
The victory, though, didn’t come easy for UST as it lost a five-point lead, 84-79, with less than a minute remaining. Philip Manalang and Mark Maloles kept UE in the game, trimming the deficit to one, 84-83, with 19.7 ticks left.
Marvin Lee and Oliver de Guzman sank four free throws before the Growling Tigers secured a huge stop in the final 5.5 seconds, swiping the ball off Alvin Pasaol to preserve the win.
Regie Basibas topped UST with 21 points, nine rebounds, four assists, three steals, and a block, while Cameroonian big man Steve Akomo posted 18 markers, 20 boards, three assists and six blocks..
Eric Caunan also got a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds with two assists to boot, while Lee had 11 markers, five boards, and three dimes.
“It feels like we’re champions,” said Lee as UST halted its 17-game losing skid dating back to last season.
Pasaol paced the Red Warriors with 18 points, five rebounds, and five steals, while Jason Varilla had 16 markers and three boards, and Maloles collected 15 points, five rebounds, and two assists in the defeat.
UE wrapped up their campaign on a four-game slide to end up with a 3-11 slate.
UST 88 – Basibas 21, Akomo 18, Caunan 14, Lee 11, Garcia 10, De Guzman 6, Sta. Ana 4, Escalambre 2, Macasaet 2, Romero 0, Huang 0, Faundo 0.
UE 85 – Pasaol 18, Varilla 16, Maloles 15, Conner 10, Acuño 8, Cullar 7, Manalang 7, Bartolome 2, Olayon 2, Derige 0.
Quarters: 23-15, 43-39, 63-61, 88-85.