MANILA, Philippines – This time around, Coach Derrick Pumaren’s boys didn’t surrender their big lead.
Instead, they played consistent on both ends of the floor for the entire 40 minutes, even with their star Roi Sumang going down in the third quarter, snapping a four-game losing streak in the process.
“We had to get over the hump,” the champion head coach said after the game, simple and clear.
The University of the East Red Warriors beat the University of Sto. Tomas Growling Tigers, 72-62, on Wednesday afternoon, August 13, to finish their first round campaign in Season 77 of the UAAP at 3-4 and in possession of the fifth seed in the league standings.
Charles Mammie had his second straight strong performance, finishing with 12 points and 13 minutes in just 22 minutes of action, while Emil Renz Palma registered 14 markers, all of which scored in the third quarter where the Red Warriors pulled away by as much as 29.
Sumang contributed 8 points, 5 assists, and 2 steals in 17 minutes before departing from the game.
UST, now also at 3-4 and losers of three straight, played without big man and MVP candidate Karim Abdul, who’s at the UST Hospital to nurse a viral infection.
The Growling Tigers received a third straight impressive output from Aljon Mariano, who finished with 21 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 steals, though the team still finished the first round with its worse record since Season 74 in 2011.
Kevin Ferrer had another troublesome shooting afternoon, though he ended up with 12 markers and 6 rebounds nonetheless. Loiue Vigil, meanwhile, registered 8 points on 4-of-12 shooting.
Turnovers was the theme of the game’s opening minutes, as UST fumbled the ball continuously due to UE’s press while lazy passes by the Red Warriors impended their offensive sets.
Due to the absence of Abdul, Mammie quickly went to work by scoring a tough fadeaway and completing an and-one play not long after.
The Tigers, however, kept the game tight at 7-6 by using back screens to get players open in the paint, with Ed Daquioag putting up four quick points.
Mammie continued to beast in the paint following the game’s first time-out, taking advantage of undersized Growling Tigers to claim offensive rebounds and planting easy baskets, 16-11.
Entering the second quarter, the Red Warriors had an eight-point lead in their dispersal, with the second-year big man leading the way with as many points.
University of the East’s defense in the second period continued to suffocate the life out of University of Sto. Tomas’ offense, as the latter managed to put up just four points in the quarter while going 1-of-12 from the field.
UE, on the other hand, had built a lead that went up to 17, 28-11, during the Tigers’ drought – their seventh double-digit advantage in as many consecutive games, four of which were losses.
At the half, UST, shooting 22% from the field at that time, stared at a 32-15 deficit.
The Red Warriors didn’t pull their foot off the gas pedal in the third quarter, as they continued to take advantage of the Growling Tigers’ turnovers for easy points and buckets.
Mammie also prolonged his stellar play by getting to the free throw line as he continuously attacked the paint, while Palma came off the bench to provide instant firepower with jumpers and easy lay-ins.
A scary moment, however, took place mid-way through the quarter when Sumang landed on the foot of Mariano following a foray to teeth of UST’s defense in the paint.
The UE star stayed on the floor for a few moments, clutching on to his ankle before being lifted off the playing court by his teammates and assistant coaches.
Nonetheless, UE continued to scorch from the field and extended their lead to 29, 60-31, after 30 minutes of play.
Just when it seemed like the game was in the bag, the Growling Tigers uncorked a rapid 14-0 run in three minutes, awakening the UST crowd in the process, 60-45.
After getting a defensive stop, Ferrer had the opportunity to cut the lead to 12, though he missed his trailing three-pointer on the break.
On the succeeding possession, Moustapha Arafat attacked the paint and drew a foul, which he took advantage of by making both charities.
UST then turned the ball over, leading to a Dan Alberto floater that halted the Growling Tigers’ momentum, as well as attain control back on the Red Warriors’ side.
UE (72): Palma 14, Mammie 12, Galanza 9, Sumang 8, Arafat 7, Alberto 6, Javier 6, Olayon 3, Charcos 2, De Leon 2, Varilla 2, Jumao-As 1, Cudal 0, Derige 0, Guiang 0, Hernandez 0
UST (62): Mariano 21, Ferrer 12, Vigil 8, Faundo 7, Sheriff 4, Daquioag 3, Pe 3, Lo 2, Lao 1, Subido 1, Gayosa 0, Macasaet 0
Quarter Scores: 19-11, 32-15, 60-31, 72-62