UST knocks off FEU, moves on to face UP in stepladder semis
MANILA, Philippines—University of Santo Tomas recovered its bearings just in time as it overcame a gritty Far Eastern University squad, 81-71, Wednesday night to advance to the next phase of the stepladder semifinals of UAAP Season 82 men’s basketball tournament at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Growling Tigers came out firing on all cylinders in the opening period, racing to a 26-point lead at halftime, but need to hold off a late surge by the Tamaraws, who came within five points with six and a half minutes remaining before fading down the stretch.
Newly-minted Most Valuable Player Soulemane Chabi Yo finished with 25 points, including 19 in the first half, and grabbed 11 rebounds, while Brent Paraiso and Renzo Subido, who spearheaded the early barrage of the Tigers, tallied 18 and 14 points, respectively
The victory propelled the No. 4 Tigers to a duel with second seed University of the Philippines on Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum. The Fighting Maroons hold a twice-to-beat edge in their duel with the winner moving on to face the Ateneo Blue Eagles in the best-of-three finals.
The Tigers took a commanding 54-28 lead at the break after hitting nine treys and relying on Chabi Yo’s inside baskets. Compounding the Tamaraws’ woes was the ejection of Barkley Eboña, who was thrown out late in the second period for a disqualifying foul on Chabi Yo.
But the Tamaraws returned from the dugout, rejuvenated as they fought back behind the outside sniping of Ken Tuffin and crucial baskets from Hubert Cani and Wendell Comboy.
In the end, it was the Tigers’ defense that ultimately sealed the Tamaraws fate as FEU was held scoreless for a five-minute spell in the fourth quarter, before Subido knocked down his fourth trey with 1:28 remaining for a 78-65 advantage.
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