BATANGAS, Philippines – The blistering heat at the Calatagan South Beach here paled in comparison to the hot hands of Sherwin Concepcion.
Concepcion caught fire and towed UST to a spectacular 21-20 comeback win over La Salle in the finals of the UAAP Season 84 men’s 3×3 basketball tournament on Friday, June 3.
Recently added to Gilas Pilipinas’ pool, Concepcion proved he deserved the call-up by racking up 12 points and draining the game-winning long bomb as the Growling Tigers fought back from 9 points down to clinch the title.
UST trailed 3-12 before Concepcion found his touch from deep, sinking 5 two-pointers in a 12-3 run capped by an and-one play from Royce Mantua that knotted the score at 15-15.
Ben Philips put the Green Archers at championship point with a deuce, 20-17, but Nic Cabañero retaliated with his own two-pointer to keep the Tigers within striking distance.
A Philips turnover then proved costly as Concepcion hit the last of his 6 two-pointers over the outstretched arms of Ralph Cu to complete the come-from-behind victory.
This is the first UAAP basketball championship for UST since the Tigers ruled the men’s 5-on-5 basketball tournament in Season 69 in 2006.
“I told my teammates that the game is not over so we fought until the end,” said Concepcion in Filipino. “My teammates trusted me. Luckily, my shots went in.”
Concepcion, named the Most Valuable Player, added 6 rebounds and 2 assists, while Cabañero chalked up 4 points and 4 rebounds.
Bryan Santos added 3 points, 3 rebounds, and 1 steal for UST.
Philips and Emman Galman recorded 6 points apiece in the loss as the Green Archers failed to sustain the momentum from their impressive 7-0 start.
Although he took a back seat offensively in the finals, Cabañero did most of the heavy lifting in their 21-12 win over UP in the semifinals, where he churned out 11 points.
La Salle nipped NU, 19-17, in the other semifinals bracket.
UST 21 – Concepcion 12, Cabañero 4, Santos 3, Mantua 2.
La Salle 20 – Galman 6, Phillips 6. Cu 5, Lim 3.