Lack of bigs catches up with UST in crucial loss to Adamson
UST’s big man conundrum eventually reared its ugly head.
The Growling Tigers had a surprising run when 6-foot-8 center Steve Akomo went down with a head injury at the tail-end of the first round, winning three games out of five to build a 5-6 record in the UAAP Season 81 men’s basketball tournament.
It was during this time that UST relied on bruisers Germy Mahinay and Enrique Caunan to pick up the slack in Akomo’s absence but such a limited center rotation proved fatal for the Growling Tigers in their 96-83 loss to Adamson University.
Caunan absorbed his fifth foul less than two minutes into the third while Mahinay lasted a little bit longer—less than three minutes into the fourth.
“At first we really didn’t have any problem matching up, but when the bigs were gone that’s when it started,” said UST head coach Aldin Ayo in Filipino Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Ayo had no choice but to go with a small lineup in the fourth with the 5-foot-11 Joshua Marcos holding ground UST’s paint against Adamson’s 6-foot-7 center Papi Sarr.
This small lineup saw UST get outrebounded 53-35 and Sarr putting up 11 points and 14 boards.
Making things worse for the Growling Tigers was CJ Cansino’s momentary absence late in the game after he hurt his left Achilles’ muscle.
Cansino, who stands at 6-foot-2, landed on Sean Manganti’s foot after defending a transition layup attempt from the Soaring Falcon with 4:16 left.
Although Cansino made his return with two minutes remaining to play, Adamson’s 87-76 lead was too big of a margin to overcome in such a short amount of time.
Ayo, though, still commended his players’ efforts despite being undersized and being undermanned.
“We still fought, my players were still playing within the system especially on the defensive part,” said Ayo. “We tried to catch up but we really didn’t have the players.”
With the loss, the Growling Tigers dropped to a 5-7 record and stayed at the sixth spot of the standings.
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