UST outlasts FEU in double overtime
MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) The University of Sto. Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers claimed a tremendous victory in the UAAP Season 76 men's basketball tournament as they outlasted the Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws in double overtime, 79-78, Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.
With their Final Four hopes hanging in the balance, the Growling Tigers rallied from a 12-point deficit and overcame the Tamaraws in a hard-fought, back-and-forth battle.
"It's all about the players," said UST coach Pido Jarencio after the game. "Talagang 'yung effort, 'yung desire, puso, nandoon. 'Yun ang hinahanap ko na nawala sa amin."
The Tigers trailed 37-25 early in the third period, but slowly clawed their way back in the game behind contributions from Karim Abdul, Aljon Mariano and Kevin Ferrer.
An unsportsmanlike foul called on FEU's Anthony Hargrove midway through the third quarter also sparked the Tigers, as they reeled off a 15-5 run that allowed them to take the lead, 43-42, with 53 seconds to go.
A long jumper by RR Garcia got the lead back for FEU, but it was a back-and-forth contest from that point on as the two squads exchanged leads up until the final minute of the fourth quarter.
It seemed as though the Tamaraws would claim the victory after Terrence Romeo hit two clutch free throws with 7.4 seconds left in regulation, but Mariano drained a cold-blooded triple with just 4.9 seconds left to tie the game at 62.
Romeo fumbled the ball in the final FEU possession to send the game to the first overtime period.
The first extension was a shootout, with a triple by Gryann Mendoza giving FEU a 70-67 lead with two minutes remaining. The Tigers had their chances to cut into the lead, but Mariano missed a floater and Abdul missed a jump shot.
The Tamaraws were unable to pad their lead however, and the Tigers made them pay when Clark Bautista drilled a corner triple with just 10 seconds to go to tie the game at 70-all.
With a chance to win the game for the Tamaraws, Romeo dribbled away much of the clock before launching a triple that missed, and Mike Tolomia's putback was judged to have come after the game clock expired.
Mac Belo stepped up for FEU in the second overtime, scoring six straight points to give the Tams a 76-72 lead. But the Tigers responded with a 7-0 run, capped off by a three-point play by Abdul, to seize the lead for good, 79-76.
A Tolomia lay-up cut the lead to a single digit, and after a Bautista turnover, it looked as though FEU had a chance to steal the game, but Abdul blocked Belo's triple with 6.5 seconds to go.
"It's a total team effort," Jarencio said. "Sa regulation, si Mariano, and then noong nag-second overtime, si Bautista. Sa finishing touches, si Karim. Talagang pinagsama-sama para manalo."
The victory allowed the Tigers to stay in the midst of the hunt for a Final Four slot with a 6-4 record, while relegating the Tamaraws to second place as they suffered their fourth loss in five games.
"Big boost ito para sa team at para sa standing namin," said Jarencio.
Abdul (24 points, 12 rebounds), Mariano (21 points, 11 rebounds) and Ferrer (15 points, 13 rebounds) all had double-doubles for the Tigers, who were again playing without injured captain Jeric Teng.
"Para sa mga players ito at para sa community, na nag-bigay ng suporta sa amin. Ine-expect nila na maka-recover kami kahit na may mga key players tayo na wala," said Jarencio.
The Tamaraws, who have now played two double-overtime games this season, continued their second-round slump after sweeping the first round of the tournament.
Romeo finished with 19 points in 41 minutes, but shot only seven of 25 from the field and attemped a staggering 16 three-point attempts. Belo had 15 points and 14 rebounds, while Mendoza added 13 points and nine boards. Former MVP RR Garcia scored eight points and made only 3-of-16 field goals.
Neither team shot well in the first half, but the Tamaraws made good use of their second chances as they built a 32-21 halftime lead. Romeo, who started the game after coming off the bench against Ateneo, had 10 points in the first two quarters.
The Tigers were able to keep the game close despite struggling to gain rhythm on offense, and a split at the line by Karim Abdul made it a four-point game, 20-24, with just under three minutes to go.
But FEU ended the first half on an 8-1 run to take their first double-digit lead of the game.
UST 79 - Abdul 24, Mariano 21, Ferrer 15, Lo 8, Bautista 6, Pe 2, Daquioag 2, Sheriff 1, Lao 0
FEU 78 - Romeo 19, Belo 15, Mendoza 13, Garcia 8, Hargrove 6, Cruz 6, Tolomia 5, Pogoy 4, Sentcheu 2, Jose 0
Quarter-scoring: 10-16, 21-32, 43-44, 62-62, 70-70, 79-78