The University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers pulled their act together and unleashed a 16-0 run in the pay-off period en route for another come-from-behind victory against the league’s cellar dweller, the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons, 75-68, at the Mall of Asia Arena yesterday.
Tigers team captain Jeric Fortuna led the team to overcome a seven-point deficit heading to the fourth quarter as he rampaged two 3-point plays in the last six minutes of the game, including the lead-stealing bonus free throw in the 5:23 mark, 60-59.
UST shifted the momentum of the game into their side as Jeric Teng stole the leather from UP, resulting another lay-up plus a charity to extend their lead into four-points, 63-59.
The España-based squad never looked back as they had full control of the driver seat mounting an 11-point advantage, 70-59, with only three minutes left to play. Aljon Mariano fired up seven out of his total points, including his shot clock beating trey.
Mariano tallied 16 points, 9 of which was scattered in the fourth, while Cameroonian Center Karim Abdul registered again a double-double figure, 16 points and a game-high of 21 rebounds. Fortuna also shared in the scoring honors as he also collected a double-double mark, 11 points and 12 rebounds to slate UST’s ninth victory in the tournament.
”Masarap lang doon yung will to win, lalo na sa last quarter,” Coach Pido Jarencio said.
The Tigers showcased a fiery start as Abdul rocked the score board with his strong drives to the basket plus fouls to have a six-point advantage in the second quarter, 20-14. UP clawed back as Jelo Montecastro led his team with his fast break lay-ups added by the Tigers’ barrage of turnovers to end the half with a three-point lead, 38-35.
The Jarencio-coached squad carved out 54 rebounds and shot 36.5% in the field despite of a woeful 61% in the free throw line and 25% in the rainbow territory, matched with 17 turnovers. The Fighting Maroons dished out 32 fouls in the game.
Montecastro headed his team with a game-high 17 markers, featured by 100% in the two-point field goals, and Mike Silungan scored 14 points, still insufficient to pull an upset victory.
With this win, UST is currently second in ranking above FEU, whose win against NU was overruled by the UAAP board and will be re-played on September 23.
UST Growling Tigers will face defending champion Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena. The Tigers escaped the Eagles in the first round in a thrilling 71-70 victory.
Tigers’ Scores: Mariano 16, Abdul 16, Fortuna 11, Teng 10, Bautista 9, Ferrer 4, Daquioag 3, Vigil 2, Pe 2, Lo 2, Haingan 0, Afuang 0
Maroons’ Scores: Montecastro 17, Silungan 14, Soyud 11, Ball 6, Lopez 6, Romero 5, Manuel 5, Padilla 2, Hipolito 2, Mbah 0, Wong 0, Gamboa 0, Asilum 0
Quarter Scores: 20-14, 35-38, 46-53, 75-68
By Karl Cedrick G. Basco
Photo taken by Jenzine Inah M. Alcantara