Lao, who emerged with 14 points in a win over the Tamaraws this past Sunday, came through for UST in the end to save his squad.
In front of a tense crowd, Lao split from the line with 1.1 seconds on the clock to break the 49-all deadlock and shove UST ahead by a hair, 50-49, and ultimately give them the victory.
Before the game-winner, Lao missed 3 free throws in the final 30 seconds, which he admitted put more pressure on him.
"Mas lalong na-pressure ako nung namintis ko yung unang dalawang free throws," said Lao. "Buti na lang pumasok yung last." (I was even more pressured after I missed the first two free throws. Good thing I made the last one.)
Lao wound up with just 4 points to go with 5 boards in 17 minutes of action off the bench. He had only one field goal and went two-of-6 from the stripe.
It wasn't much but his contribution was enough to turn the game around for the struggling UST.
Unable to stay consistent coming off the FEU win, the Tigers executed poorly throughout most of the contest, leaving the Falcons free to control the lead even down the stretch.
But a win is a win, and the Tigers rose to 2-1.
"Hindi ko alam ano nangyari after a good game against FEU," remarked head coach Bong Dela Cruz. "Tentative yung mga bata at kailangan namin magusap-usap."
(I don't know what happened after a good game against FEU. The players are tentative and we need to talk it over.)
The Tigers shot 28% overall, while the Falcons also wound up with the same shooting clip.
As UST held the edge on inside points, 22-16, their missing shooters were painfully inaccurate with perimeter points going the way of Adamson, 9-21.
Kevin Ferrer, who tied the count at 49 with just under two minutes remaining on a couple of charities, had just 10 points on 3-of-13 field goals.
UST’s Karim Abdul, despite being on the floor for nearly the entire game at 37.5 minutes of playing time, was barely able to assert himself with just 8 markers on two-of-5 field goals to go with 9 rebounds.
Abdul, however, did come up with a huge game-changing block on Jansen Rios (6 points) with 1:45 on the clock as breaks of the game went UST's way in the end.
"Concern namin yun," Dela Cruz said of his team's miserable shooting. "Nagpra-practice kami every day to improve the shooting and free throws. Tapos this game ganito laro namin. So disappointed."
(That's our concern. We practice every day to improve the shooting and free throws. And then this game we played like this. So disappointed.)
Going up against a very young Falcons squad composed of 11 rookies, Dela Cruz did not rule out complacency as a factor for UST's less than stellar performance.
"Nandoon na rin yun pero as a veteran team hindi dapat ganoon ang attitude ng team namin."
(That's part of it but as a veteran team we shouldn't have that kind of attitude.)
Louie Vigil led the Tigers with his 11 markers. While Aljon Mariano was still nowhere to be found offensively with only 7 points.
For Adamson, coach Kenneth Duremdes scooped up another gem from his bench with Jessie Pedrosa leading all Falcons with 10 points, 5 rebounds, an assist and a steal.
The Falcons played sans team captain Don Trollano, who was suspended for this game after incurring a disqualifying foul in their game against UE. A disqualifying foul automatically merits an ejection during the game and a suspension in the next game.
The Tigers, too, also missed the services of guard Ed Daquioag who sat out due to fever.
UST (50): Vigil 11, Ferrer 10, Abdul 8, Mariano 7, Lao 4, Sheriff 4, Gayosa 2, Lo 2, Subido 2, Dela Cruz 0, Macasaet 0, Pe 0, Sablan 0.
Adamson (49): Pedrosa 10, Nalos 9, Iñigo 7, Rios 6, Villanueva 5, Ochea 4, Aquino 3, Monteclaro 3, Baytan 2, Butron 0.
Quarter scores: 13-17, 27-32, 40-45, 50-49.