by Yski Rualo
Off a commanding 29-point fourth quarter performance, the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers prevailed over the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons, 75-68, in the UAAP Men’s Basketball tournament, Saturday at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena.
The Maroons ended the first half with a narrow 38-35 lead. The Tigers caught up for most of the second half, but Aljon Mariano and Jeric Fortuna combined for a clutch 15-point scattering in the payoff period which gave UST the offensive spark it needed for the win.
Midway through the fourth canto, the Tigers ignited a 16-0 offensive blitz that gave them 70-59 cushion with 3:13 remaining in the quarter. The Maroons responded with a 9-5 rally, but time was no longer on their side as the Tigers escaped with a 75-68 victory.
“Puro turnovers sila nun (kaya) na-co-convert namin (into points),” UST head coach Pido Jarencio said on UP’s fourth quarter meltdown.
Tigers’ Cameroonian center Karim Abdul imposed his dominance yet again with his 16 points and 21 rebounds. Forward Mariano garnered 16 markers and six boards while point guard Fortuna also contributed 11 points and 12 rebounds.
Point guard Jelo Montecastro headed the Maroons’ offense with his 17 markers. Swing-man Mike Silungan punched in 14 points and four rebounds while center Raul Soyud added 11 markers and five boards.
“Maliit lang ang margin for error namin, tapos nagkamali kami. Siguro mga dalawa o tatlong possessions iyon. Nag-iba ang complexion ng game after that,” said Montecastro on the Maroons’ lack of a clutch performance.
UST shot 25-out-of-41 free throws while UP shot just 17-out-of-22. UST also had the advantage in the paint as they outrebounded UP, 54-40.
“Our record now (1-11) does not necessarily speak for how hard we’ve been performing. Siguro kulang lang talaga sa end eh. Lastly, kulang sa finishing,” Montecastro said.
UP’s last two assignments of the season include FEU on September 13 and NU on September 16 at the PSC-Ultra and MOA Arena, respectively.