MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Until the end, University of Santo Tomas proved too tough to solve for the University of the Philippines.
Renzo Subido knocked in a triple with 23.6 seconds left as the UST Growling Tigers slipped past the UP Fighting Maroons, 68-65, to clinch a UAAP Season 82 men’s basketball finals spot in front of a massive crowd of 18,548 on Wednesday, November 13 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Tigers – who beat the Maroons in all their 4 meetings this season – overcame the twice-to-beat advantage of the Maroons to arrange a championsip showdown against the undefeated Ateneo Blue Eagles.
Game 1 of the best-of-three title series kicks off at 4 pm on Saturday, November 16 at the Araneta Coliseum.
In completing the upset over the Maroons, the Tigers returned to the finals for the first time in 4 years.
After Subido’s go-ahead triple, 66-65, Soulemane Chabi Yo showed MVP poise and buried the buffer free throws with 4.4 seconds left.
“That was a good game,” said UST coach Aldin Ayo. “We have to give credit to coach Bo (Perasol) and his staff for adjustments they made. It was really tough for us because of adjustments.”
Chabi Yo powered the Tigers with a monster double-double of 22 points and 16 rebounds, while Subido fired 14 points, 12 coming from three-point range on a 4-of-9 clip.
Mark Nonoy, this season’s top rookie, also delivered with 12 points, 6 assists, and 2 boards.
The fourth-seeded UST forged the knockout match after dumping UP by 20 points, 89-69, last Sunday, November 10.
UP’s top guard Jun Manzo tied the game at 57 before Juan Gomez de Liaño followed it up with a stepback mid-range jumper at the 5:16 mark for the Maroons’ first lead of the game, 59-57.
Manzo again later came through, finishing a clutch layup for a crucial four-point lead, 63-59, before fouling out in the next possession with 2:33 left.
And it looked like UP grabbed the momentum as Kobe Paras later jammed one home at the 1:53 mark, 65-61, after a couple of Nonoy free throws.
As UST standout Rhenz Abando answered with a quick layup to cut the gap to a basket, 65-63, the Maroons didn’t get to cushion their lead as Ricci Rivero turned the rock over with 1:03 left.
Seconds later, Subido delivered the endgame heroics with a clutch trey and Chabi Yo sealed it with a pair of foul shots.
Bright Akhuetie paced the Maroons with 16 points and 17 rebounds. Manzo had 12 points, while Rivero finished with 12 markers and 8 boards.
UST 68 – Chabi Yo 22, Subido 14, Nonoy 12, Abando 11, Ando 3, Cansino 2, Concepcion 2, Paraiso 2, Bataller 0, Huang 0.
UP 65 – Akhuetie 16, Manzo 12, Rivero 12, Ju. Gomez de Liano 8, Paras 8, Spencer 3, Ja. Gomez de Liano 2, Prado 2, Webb 2, Murrell 0, Tungcab 0.
Quarters: 18-6, 29-28, 49-44, 68-65.