MANILA, Philippines – The UST Growling Tigers squeaked past the UP Fighting Maroons with a thrilling 84-78 triumph in the UAAP Season 82 men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday, October 16.
Renzo Subido and Brent Paraiso knocked in clutch triples in the dying seconds as the Tigers clawed their way up to solo 3rd place with a 6-5 record, just within arm’s reach of 2nd placer UP at 6-4.
With the win, the Tigers completed an elimination-round sweep of the Maroons as UST also grabbed the upperhand in their first meeting, 85-69.
Both teams traded leads well into the final 3 minutes of the contest, where Paraiso muscled his way in for the go-ahead layup, 74-73, which was quickly answered by Juan Gomez de Liaño for a 75-74 advantage.
Kobe Paras – who went down with a shoulder injury early before returning in the second half – then made up for lost time with a clutch triple off a crafty Jun Manzo pass at the 1:40 mark to give UP a two-possession cushion, 78-74.
However, UST quickly recovered with 5 straight points, ending with an open Paraiso trey for a 79-78 lead in the final 52 ticks.
Gomez de Liaño then made a costly turnover off the timeout that resulted in a well-contested three by Subido for an 82-78 advantage with 26.2 seconds left.
Soulemane Chabi Yo – who also chipped in 14 points for UST – then sealed the deal with a split trip to the line, 83-78, after a missed Paras three.
The UST shooters came through as Sherwin Concepcion knocked in 16 points highlighted by a 5-of-10 clip from three-point range, while Subido fired 13 points on a 3-of-6 shooting also from beyond the arc.
“Being a young team and making the right decisions down the stretch, that was big for us,” said UST coach Aldin Ayo. “I told them to make every possession count, execute the plays, and make the right decisions, and they did.”
Built on a white-hot 1st quarter where they sank a staggering 7 three-pointers, UST extended its lead in the 2nd to 9, 36-27, capped by a Soulemane Chabi Yo layup at the 5:55 mark.
Things would turn from bad to worse for the Maroons as team leading scorer Paras landed awkwardly on his right shoulder after a layup attempt with 5:43 remaining.
Just a minute later, UST’s top rookie Mark Nonoy also exited the game after tweaking his right ankle on a long bomb attempt.
Thankfully, both players returned in the 3rd quarter, just as the resurgent Manzo inched UP within one, 51-52, off a triple midway through the frame.
Both teams kept within striking distance of the other until Javi Gomez de Liaño gave UP its first lead of the game, 62-61, off a patented corner triple with 8:41 left in regulation.
Paras led the Maroons with 18 points, while Ricci Rivero had a season-high 12 points.
UST 84 – Concepcion 16, Chabi Yo 14, Subido 13, Cansino 12, Huang 9, Ando 7, Nonoy 7, Paraiso 6, Bataller 0, Bordeos 0, Cuajao 0.
UP 78 – Paras 18, Manzo 12, Rivero 12, Gomez de Liano Ja 11, Akhuetie 10, Gomez de Liano Ju 5, Mantilla 3, Murrell 3, Prado 2, Webb 2, Jaboneta 0, Spencer 0, Tungcab 0.
Quarters: 23-22, 48-41, 60-57, 84-78.