Tiger Cubs stay alive in semis with comeback win over Baby Tamaraws
MANILA, Philippines – UST Tiger Cubs' magic run in the playoffs continues.
The Tiger Cubs erased a 13-point deficit in the 4th quarter en route to an 81-80 win over defending champions FEU Baby Tamaraws to advance in the stepladder semifinals of the UAAP Season 80 juniors' basketball tournament at the Blue Eagle Gym Saturday, February 17.
After barely missing the playoffs, UST has now won back-to-back games for the first time since the first round, where they went 5-2 before going on a downward spiral in the second round, winning only two of their last 7 games. The Tiger Cubs then knocked out the Adamson Baby Falcons, 73-72, to clinch the last semifinals berth.
Reigning MVP CJ Cansino poured in 18 points, 16 rebounds, and 5 assists against 7 turnovers to anchor the Tiger Cubs, who will face the second seed NU Bullpups in the stepladder.
The Baby Tamaraws buried UST by 13 points, 79-66, midway the payoff period but the Tiger Cubs dropped a 14-0 bomb, powered by Rayjhun Baquial's 8 points, to take an 80-79 lead with 1:12 minutes left.
Baquial, who finished with 13 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists, canned two triples in the salvo and a stepback jumper that gave UST its first lead since the second quarter.
FEU tied the game after LJ Gonzales split his free throws before UST regained the upper hand as Kobe Palencia went 1-of-2 at the line, 81-80. The Baby Tams had 1.2 seconds for potential game winner off an inbound but Royce Alforque's triple missed.
Cyril Narvasa had 12 points and 8 rebounds, Liam Manabat added 13 points, Palencia chipped in 11 markers and Bismarck Lina hauled down 16 boards in the win.
RJ Abarrientos paced the Baby Tamaraws with 24 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists while Gonzales churned out a near-triple-double of 10 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists in the loss.
UST will lock horns with the Bullpups on February 20, 4 pm, at the Arena in San Juan. The winner will take on the undefeated Ateneo Blue Eaglets in the finals.
UST (81): Cansino 18, Baquial 13, Narvasa 12, Manabat 12, Palencia 11, Villapando 6, Lina 4, Anunciacion 3, Relucio 2, Estrella 0, Dolendo 0, Benzonan 0
FEU (80): Abarrientos 24, Torres 11, Gonzales 10, Alforque 9, Sajonia 8, Tolentico 6, Celso 4, Ona 3, Bautista 3, Armendez 2
Quarter scores: 20-15, 36-41, 53-62, 81-80