Snapping a 19-game losing skid, the UST Growling Tigers fended off the FEU Tamaraws, 68-62, to pick up their first win in the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball tournament on Sunday, Oct. 22, at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Nic Cabañero finished with 23 points on 9-for-16 shooting, while Christian Manaytay produced 10 points and 11 rebounds, leading UST to a 1-6 slate in the first round.
The last time the Tigers won was 386 days ago against the Adamson Falcons at the opening game of Season 85.
Paul Manalang made a clutch layup down the stretch in the 1:02 mark of the final period giving UST’s lead to eight before FEU answered back with a Jorick Bautista three-pointer cutting the lead to five, 67-62.
The Tigers ultimately held off the Tamaraws as Cabanero secured the victory with his lone point in the fourth quarter through a free-throw, 68-62.
“This game we had a good start, for the past few games lagi kami(ng) nauunahan eh,” said assistant coach Japs Cuan.
UST sank three straight three-pointers to start the game, setting the tempo early to lead, 9-2.
FEU started with a 6-2 run while UST answered with their own 6-0 run credited to Angelo Crisostomo’s basket and Christian Manaytay’s two straight buckets from down the middle preserving their advantage.
Cabanero then dropped 11 points in the third quarter including a buzzer beating floater and a free throw after FEU committed an unsportsmanlike foul to end the period, 55-50.
The Growling Tigers extended the lead to 11 points in the final period after a 15-4 run, that broke the 50-point deadlock in the closing minute of the third quarter.
LJ Gonzales, Xyrus Torres, and Jorick Bautista each had 11 points to lead the Tamaraws in the loss that relegated them to 2-5 entering the second round.
As of writing, the games for the second round of the men’s basketball tournament has yet to be released.–with reports from Anton Villegas