Tigers shoot down Eagles for first PCCL title
RUNNERS-UP no more.
The University of Santo Tomas was crowned the best national collegiate basketball team as it defeated UAAP rival Ateneo, 81-76, to win the Philippine Collegiate Champion’s League (PCCL) title at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City yesterday.
“This is a prestigious league, we are the number one team out of 200 schools. This is even better than the UAAP for me. Maraming salamat sa suporta, para sa inyong lahat ito,” said UST coach Pido Jarencio.
Jarencio is still pondering on whether to return next year as UST’s head coach. “Let’s see, I’m still undecided. ‘Di pa natin masasabi.”
Most Valuable Player Jeric Teng led the Growling Tigers with 22 points and six rebounds, firing three of his five 3-pointers in the final quarter to help offset Ateneo’s late-game surge. The Blue Eagles were paced by Kiefer Ravena and Ryan Buenafe with 20 points apiece.
“Sinuwerte na rin siguro ako sa mga tira ko kanina. Sabi ko sa teammates ko, nasa dulo na rin tayo, tapusin na natin,” said the veteran guard.
The Tigers shot horribly from the free throw line, making only eight out of 20 free throws while Ateneo made 21 out of 28. They were able to dominate the glass though, outrebounding Ateneo, 47-32.
The Tigers built its biggest lead at 79-67 in the fourth quarter after Teng nailed his fifth 3-pointer. Ateneo then went on a 9-0 run, including seven points from Buenafe, to cut the deficit to three with 30.5 seconds left.
Sophomore forward Kevin Ferrer made a key putback off a Karim Abdul miss to push UST’s lead back to five with 10.5 seconds remaining to seal the deal for the Tigers. Ferrer finished with 21 points, nine rebounds and four assists.
Team captain Jeric Fortuna put on a courageous performance in his last game as a Growling Tiger to contribute 11 points while nursing a left ankle sprain.
“I didn’t think of it as revenge, I really just wanted to win. I’m very happy and contented right now. I will leave UST with a championship,” said a smiling Fortuna, who was named a member of the mythical team along with Teng and Abdul.
In a display of sportsmanship, Abdul and Ateneo center Greg Slaughter exchanged jerseys at the end of the game to show respect for each other’s performance.
Tigers’ scores: Teng 22, Ferrer 21, Fortuna 11, Abdul 8, Bautista 7, Daquioag 6, Afuang 4, Mariano 2, Hainga 0, Pe 0, Lo 0
Eagles’ scores: Ravena 20, Buenafe 20, Slaughter 11, Salva 9, Elorde 7, Tiongson 5, Sumalinog 3, Chua 1, Golla 0, Gonzaga 0
Quarter scores: 19-19, 45-39, 60-57, 81-76
By Nicolo Paolo A. Pascual
Photo taken by Matthew David P. Dulay