UST turns to its defense to beat fancied UP anew
MANILA, Philippines—From being the fourth seed, University of Santo Tomas now finds itself on the cusp of a trip to the UAAP Season 82 men’s basketball finals.
UST ripped University of the Philippines, 89-69, to survive its second knockout game of the stepladder semifinals, beating a more talented team on paper through hard work especially on the defensive end.
“UP is the most talented team in terms of individual players but you just have to play honest defense and just make sure you give your best,” UST’s newly-minted MVP Soulemane Chabi Yo said Sunday.
“Talent-wise, UP will always have the advantage and in a game like this, we really have to have a solid foundation,” said the team’s heady point guard Renzo Subido in Filipino.
The Fighting Maroons boast a roster that includes last season’s MVP Bright Akhuetie, Season 80 Rookie of the Year Juan Gomez de Liaño, Ricci Rivero, and former NCAA Division 1 recruit Kobe Paras.
As for UST, its roster consists of players that head coach Aldin Ayo once described as “non bluechip recruits.”
What has made UST such a harrowing team for UP to face in their last three meetings has been its “Mayhem” brand of basketball that features a smothering defense and free-flowing offense.
UST, which has yet to lose to UP this season, was on point from the perimeter, an area where it outscored UP, 35- 11, while also having its fair share of points in the shaded area.
But it’s the defense that did the trick.
“We have to play good defense, make the right passes, and coach Aldin always told us two words and those were ‘accuracy and precision,’” said Subido, who had eight points and 12 assists, matching UP’s total as a team.
“If you’re almost there, like one more step to win, you don’t give up,” said Chabi Yo, who finished with a double-double with 17 points and 18 rebounds. “You have to be stronger mentally, finish stronger, and that’s what I did.”
“Everybody’s tired but you have to give it all your best,” added Chabi Yo, who looks to lead his team to another victory over the Maroons in a knockout on Wednesday.