Ayo rues UST’s lapses as Abando-led fightback falls short
MANILA, Philippines—Rhenz Abando was a man possessed when University of Santo Tomas staged a last minute comeback against De La Salle in the UAAP Season 82 men’s basketball tournament.
The Growling Tigers were down nine, 80-71, with less than a minute remaining when Abando suddenly caught fire, drilling basket after basket with the last being less than an inch away from sending the match to overtime.
But alas, fate wasn’t on the Growling Tigers’ side as the Green Archers held on to the cardiac 80-79 win Wednesday and boosted their Final Four chances.
“Of course, in those kinds of situations, you will go to the plays that will bring you to victory and that’s what we did,” said UST head coach Aldin Ayo in Filipino.
Abando’s first three-pointer was around 30 seconds left that cut the UST deficit to six, 80-74. He then followed it up with another long ball with 18 seconds to play, further cutting La Salle’s lead to just three, 80-77.
The game would’ve gone into overtime but Abando, who picked Andrei Caracut’s errant pass and drilled a long jumper, had his foot on the line, making his shot with 10.7 seconds to play just a long two.
UST slipped on its chance to grab a slot in the semifinals, dropping to 7-6 and tied with Far Eastern University at third.
Ayo said that even though his team was a bucket away from a win, it’s not yet the time to beat La Salle.
“For me, this isn’t the right time to beat them,” said Ayo, who left La Salle for UST in Season 81. “They deserved the win and we had lapses.”
Ayo, though, acknowledged that there were calls that didn’t go UST’s way, including a goaltending violation called on Abando with 4:57 left in the fourth and La Salle holding a 74-63 lead.
Abando blocked Melecio’s layup attempt but the referees called it a goaltending violation, much to the chagrin of Ayo and the rest of the Tigers.
“There were lapses, even the referees, especially that goaltending call, but the stepping one, Rhenz really had his foot on the line,” said Ayo.
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