ANTIPOLO—All in all, it was a good day to be Jaydee Tungcab. Thrust into the starting unit with University of the Philippines looking for someone to shadow University of the East’s Rey Suerte, Tungcab responded in a way that surprised even him.
“I actually didn’t think that I was going to lock him down and he would only score four points because it’s already a given that he’s a scorer and he’s going to score against me,” said Tungcab after the Maroons gutted out a 62-56 victory over the Warriors on Saturday in UAAP men’s basketball at Ynares Center here.
Hounded all game long by Tungcab, Suerte—who came into the game leading the UAAP in scoring with 22.8 a game—struggled mightily, finishing with only four points on 2-of-15 shooting from the field while also turning the ball over four times in over 35 minutes of action.
“His long game brilliance of defending Rey Suerte helped us a lot,” said UP coach Bo Perasol, whose wards struggled with their shots and gave up big leads.
“It’s just the principle that we have in our team—whoever it is, whoever is doing well, is going to have the time. That was what happened. [Tungcab] was able to give back to the trust that I gave him,” Perasol said.
That principle kept Tungcab on the floor, and did a world of good for Perasol and UP—Tungcab threw in a little extra by knocking the biggest shot in the game too.
With 1:38 to play and UE pouncing on a UP squad whose ball-heavy stars kept looking for their shots, Tungcab buried a triple—his only field goal for the game—to give the Maroons breathing space, 60-56.
“We had lots of lapses, but in the end, it was Jaydee who saved us with his 3-point shot at the corner,” Perasol said.
The surprise wasn’t that Tungcab made the shot. It was that he was able to get it off in a game where Perasol rued his wards’ tendency to be too individualistic.
“Most of my players, my starters, a lot of them are ball-dominant guys,” Perasol said. “Although we really wanted to make sure that we have our own plans, we have our own roles … when we see we are leading, we fall back on our personal and individual tendencies to score.
Tungcab had just four points on 1-of-3 shooting from the field, two rebounds, one steal and a turnover in close to 23 minutes of play.
Known more for his scoring, Tungcab has embraced the role of being a dependable defensive stopper when he transferred to UP after playing his first two seasons with Adamson.
“It’s a bit challenging because it’s not that easy to play good defense but I accept the role given to me to help the team,” he said.
The Maroons, who blew a double-digit lead before making the stops to halt the Warriors, notched their third consecutive win in a 4-1 card.
Bright Akhuetie had 16 points for UP while Javi Gomez de Liaño added 15. Kobe Paras tallied a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds to help the Maroons stay close to unbeaten Ateneo.
With Suerte neutralized, Alex Diakhite powered the Warriors with 21 points and 17 rebounds but his herculean effort wasn’t enough as his team dropped to 1-4.
Later in the day, Andrei Caracut came up clutch to push La Salle past Adamson, 68-61.
With the Green Archers clinging to a 60-58 lead, Caracut buried back-to-back triples inside the final minute to slam the door on the Falcons.
La Salle climbed to 2-3 and dealt Adamson its third loss in six games.
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