THE Growling Tigers advanced and secured a spot in the finals after ousting the NU Bulldogs, closing the game with a 6-point stretch, 63-57, in the MOA Arena yesterday.
After six long years, the UST Growling Tigers once again found its way in the finals of the men’s senior basketball tournament since 2006.
Sophomore Kevin Ferrer, with a season-high of 17 markers and 4 rebounds, became the spark UST needed. Defense specialist, he proved that his good defense resulted to better offense, sniping three triples which allowed UST to widen its gap in scores. Not only that, Ferrer’s effective defense held down MVP Bobby Ray Parks Jr., limiting him with only 12 points.
“Kung ano gusto mo, [dapat] pinaghihirapan mo,” Ferrer said.
Backing Ferrer were Karim Abdul and Aljon Mariano, who scored 15 and 14 points, respectively. Despite the lack of offense of UST, they managed to escape the Bulldogs with their suffocating defense.
The first half has been a seesaw ball game wherein both teams had back-to-back baskets. Abdul and Ferrer scored for the team in the second quarter. However, it was during the third quarter when UST’s offense started to heat up, with Mariano coming up alive, he hit five of his 14 points only in the third.
As time expired, the Tigers held on to their 6-point lead in the third until the end of the game. With the last two possessions of the Bulldogs, they could have shortened the deficit. Unfortunately for them, they could not convert and ended with a turnover, Ferrer finishing with a lay-up.
Even though he just came out from confinement, Ferrer was the man of the hour, for not just being defensively helpful, but also proven deadly in offense.
Coach Jarencio said that they consider being in the finals as a blessing in disguise. “Pag nanalo, bigyan naman natin ng sigla ang mga sarili natin,” he added.
The University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers will battle out in the finals against the defending champs, the Ateneo Blue Eagles, with a best of three series. Their first game is on October 6, 3:00 PM, at the SM MOA Arena.
Tigers’ Scores: Ferrer 17, Abdul 15, Mariano 14, Fortuna 8, Teng 6, Vigil 3, Pe 0, Lo 0, Bautista 0, Afuang 0
Bulldogs’ Scores: Javillionar 15, Parks 12, Alolino 8, Villamor 6, Betayene 5, Mbe 4, Khobuntin 3, Rono 2, De Guzman 2, Singh 0, Neypes 0, Labing-isa 0
Quarter Scores: 17-18, 38-34, 56-50, 63-57
By Josiah Darren G. Saynes
Photo taken by Jenzine Inah M. Alcantara