UST forces do-or-die game against NU
MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATED) The University of Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers built a huge lead in the third quarter, then relied on veteran guard Jeric Teng in the endgame to defeat the National University (NU) Bulldogs, 71-62, in their Final Four clash Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.
With NU breathing down their necks, 58-63, with 3:40 to go in the game, Teng drilled a cold-blooded triple over the out-stretched arms of Ray Parks to give the Tigers a 66-58 lead.
It proved to be enough of a cushion as the fourth-seeded Tigers forced a do-or-die game against the top-seeded Bulldogs, who hold a twice-to-beat advantage.
“Aggressive ‘yung start namin,” said UST head coach Pido Jarencio. “Nakuha ng mga players ang rhythm nila sa offense and defense.”
Teng wound up with 12 points as he extended his collegiate career, while Kevin Ferrer topscored for UST with 14 points while playing defense against Parks.
The Bulldogs were jittery to start the game, committing 12 turnovers in the first half that led to 10 points for the Tigers. They also gave up 12 offensive rebounds, allowing UST to score 12 second chance points.
Aljon Mariano gave UST a 39-21 lead in highlight reel fashion, twice faking a shot before ducking under the arm of NU center Emmanuel Mbe for a lay-up. The Tigers would go into halftime on top 39-23 after free throws by Mbe and Gelo Alolino cut into the lead.
Parks, who scored only two points in the first half, was more aggressive in the third quarter as he repeatedly drove hard to the rim. But UST countered with triples from Ferrer and Clark Bautista, and they would lead by as much as 18 points numerous times in the third period.
UST still led 60-44 with over seven minutes to go in the final frame when the Bulldogs, sparked by an Mbe triple, went on a 13-0 run. After two free throws by Parks made it 58-63,
NU had a golden opportunity to cut into the lead further when Mbe shockingly blew a wide open dunk, and Teng made the Bulldogs pay just seconds later as he drilled the dagger triple right in Parks’ face.
NU still had their chances to cut into the lead, but Parks and Alolino would miss key lay-ups. Parks also briefly went out of the game after landing hard on his left wrist, though he returned just a few minutes later.
Jarencio said the victory was dedicated to the UST community who trooped to the coliseum despite the rains. “Sila talaga ang sixth man namin,” the coach said.
The Tigers are trying to become only the first fourth-seed in the Final Four era to overcome a twice-to-beat disadvantage and defeat a No. 1 seed.
The winner-take-all clash between NU and UST will take place on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
UST 71 – Ferrer 14, Mariano 12, Bautista 12, Teng 8, Abdul 7, Sheriff 6, Pe 6, Lo 2, Lao 2, Daquioag 2
NU 62 – Alolino 17, Parks 14, Rono 8, Mbe 8, Khobuntin 5, Villamor 5, Porter 3, Alejandro 2, Rosario 0, Javillonar 0, Javelona 0
Quarter-scores: 19-8, 39-23, 54-44, 71-62