[UPDATE: Blue Eagle Juami Tiongson made a 3-point shot with less than 5 seconds left in the game. But that didn't help Ateneo get the lead from UST.]
Coming from a heartbreak loss on their first game of the season, the Growling Tigers were able to pull out an extremely exciting 71-70 victory against the four-time defending champion Ateneo Blue Eagles in UAAP season 75 men’s Basketball tournament. The game was held on July 19, 2012 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The España-based squad finally took their first win, leaving the Blue Eagles with the same 1-1 win-loss track. UST ended the drought of a 12-game losing streak dating back to season 71. Coming via a behind fashion, the players in yellow started a little bit off in terms of their ball handlings that paved the way for the team of Coach Norman Black to establish faster transitions from defense to offense, resulting to a large margin in the score after the first two quarters.
Tiger Aljon Mariano’s firing performance who posted a game-high 21 points on this game has lead the tigers for their noticeable comeback in the middle part of the third quarter. Head Coach Pido Jarencio said that this is Mariano’s breakout game and he is happy for what the returning player has been performing so far. The two Jerics of the Tigers also lifted the team back in the loop with a combined 26 points. UST’s big man Karim Abdul making a lay-up shot during the last 10 seconds of the match provided the Tigers a 4-point lead.
“We had a bad start,” team captain Jeric Fortuna admitted, “Pero nagtiwala kami sa sarili namin. We played tight in the first half. Coach said to just play our game and with a few adjustments, ayun nakahabol kami.”
The Ateneo Blue Eagles started out very strong, bombarding accurate shots from different areas and penetrating UST’s defense, resulting for some inside plays that ended the second quarter with the score 43-28. Last season’s rookie of the year Kiefer Ravena came up big with a number of 19 markers, Nico Salva adding 17 points while big man Greg Slaughter with a surprisingly single digit output of only 9 points. The Tigers were more focused during the last two quarters that resulted to a number of properly executed plays, but Ateneo was able to pull a stretch on the last four seconds of the match with a perimeter shot given by Ravena, clinching a 70-71 score. But the Tigers are really into winning this game, with a given advantage of a ball possession, the Tigers just didn’t let the ball off their hands until the time is over.
By Gilbert Simbulan
Photo by Jenzine Alcantara