by Jason V. Mercene
The University of the Philippines managed to stay close in the game but could not just weather Kevin Ferrer’s double-double explosion en-route to a 76-83 second round loss against University of Sto. Tomas at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Atoning for his forgettable game against Ateneo, Ferrer posted a monster performance of 29 points and 14 rebounds as he lifted the Tigers back to a Final Four appearance.
“Bumawi si Kevin, as a leader of the team, yun yung kailangan niyang gawin,” said UST coach Bong dela Cruz who also had three more players in his squad in double figure.
The second installment of ‘Separation of State and Church’ match proved to be a dogfight in the early going of the game before the Tigers erected a 10-point lead via 16-6 blitz midway in the second quarter.
But the Maroons have more up on its sleeve for an upset bid as it dropped their own 8-0 bomb to trim UST’s lead to three at the end of first half.
Refusing to surrender the lead, the UST’s star forward Ferrer went on a tear as he waxed hot 23 points of his 29 in the second half including key baskets to keep the Fighting Maroons at bay.
Jett Manuel topscored for the Maroons with 21 markers and eight rebounds, followed by Agu Amar with 12, while former Batang Gilas duo Diego Dario and Paul Desiderio combined for 21 in a losing effort.
“I think we were there until the end. They are not number one or two for nothing, I think it’s just the difference between the experience of the players on UST and the experience of our team,” said Manuel.
With the loss, the UP is now tied with UE in sixth place with 3-7 record but the doors are still open for the Maroons to have a crack for a Final Four slot.
“Chances are the doors aren’t close yet, we were looking for this win to jump our chances but yun nga [we lost]. But our mentality is still the same, we can’t just sit here rely on other teams losing, we just focus on our team winning and see how it goes,” added Manuel as they only have four games remaining in the elimination round.
UST (83) — Ferrer 29, Vigil 16, Daquioag 15, Abdul 10, Lao 7, Subido 3, Lee 3, Bonleon 0, Sheriff 0.
UP (76) — Manuel 21, Amar 12, Dario 11, Desiderio 10, Asilum 5, Jaboneta 5, Moralde 4, Vito 4, Gallarza 2, Kone 2, Harris 0, Juruena 0, Longa 0.
Quarterscores: 15-11, 38-35, 61-51, 83-76.