Ferrer leads UST comeback past Ateneo
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – When all of his teammates seemed cold, team captain Kevin Ferrer came to the rescue.
The veteran swingman was on fire and could barely miss from the outside as he towed University of Santo Tomas to an inspired comeback from 16 points down against Ateneo de Manila University, 68-58, in the men's basketball tournament of UAAP Season 78 on Saturday, September 26 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Ferrer, a Sinag Pilipinas national team member, posted a career-high 27 points on 6-of-10 shooting from downtown on top of 9 rebounds and a steal to lead the Growling Tigers to a bounce-back win after a tough loss to defending champions NU Bulldogs.
This he accomplished while battling flu-like symptoms since Friday night.
"Kevin Ferrer 'to e, siyempre yung puso niya hindi mo na ma-question (This is Kevin Ferrer, you can no longer question his heart)," UST head coach Bong Dela Cruz praised his leader. "He played sick today. He has fever so nilabanan lang niya yung nararamdaman niya (he battled through feeling ill)."
Ferrer caught fire early on and was a perfect 3-of-3 from long range for 13 first half points. He never grew cold as he knocked down 3 more treys in the second half and accounted for 11 of UST's 26 fourth quarter points.
He spear-headed the Tigers' relentless rally after trailing by as much as 16 points, 52-36, with 2:45 left in the third. The Blue Eagles were eventually shackled to just 6 points for the entire final frame. UST outscored Ateneo 32-6 in the last 12 minutes of the game.
"We talked about it, I think they (Ateneo) were leading by 16 points. Sabi ko tyagain lang natin. Ibaba natin sa 10 pag pasok ng fourth quarter (I just told them to be patient with it. Let's bring the lead down to 10 entering the fourth)," Dela Cruz explained.
"Nag-respond mga bata, dumpensa. Yun ang importante, dumpensa sila (The boys responded, they defended. That's what's important, they played defense)."
Quite a vocal leader, Ferrer, who has been to the UAAP Finals twice in his collegiate career, huddled up his teammates and put them back on track.
"First 3 quarters medyo flat kami on defense so nag-huddle with Kevin Ferrer as a leader (We were flat on defense for the first 3 quarters so they huddled with Kevin Ferrer as the leader)," Dela Cruz added as UST rose to a 4-1 record to tie last year's finalists FEU for the top spot. "He led the team, he talked to them, so everyone responded."
Back-to-back treys from Ferrer knotted the ballgame up at 57 with 3:34 remaining. Big man Karim Abdul then staved off his early struggles with crucial consecutive baskets that created some cushion for UST, 63-58, with just over two minutes to go.
Guard Jamil Sheriff hit a wide open lay-up, 65-58, with 23.7 ticks left and Ferrer converted a pair of free throws to fittingly secure the victory.
No other Tiger made it to double figures as Ed Daquioag contributed 9 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal. Marvin Lee added 8 points while Abdul had 7 markers and 11 boards.
Mario Bonleon chipped in 7 points, two rebounds and two assists but his most important contribution was limiting reigning UAAP MVP Kiefer Ravena to just a single point in the payoff period.
"We challenged Bonleon," Dela Cruz said. "Even in practice we challenged Bonleon to play defense on Kiefer (Ravena). Everybody played defense in the last 12 minutes of the game."
Ravena had 13 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists and a steal for Ateneo, which arrested its 3-game winning streak and slipped to 3-2.
Von Pessumal led all Eagles with 19 points on 3-of-7 three-point shooting. Matt Nieto added 8 markers and 7 boards.
UST (68): Ferrer 27, Daquioag 9, Lee 8, Abdul 7, Bonleon 7, Vigil 6, Sheriff 3, Faundo 1, Caunan 0, Lao 0, Suarez 0, Subido 0.
Ateneo (58): Pessumal 19, Ravena 13, Nieto 8, Babilonia 5, Tolentino 4, Gotladera 3, Apacible 2, Black 2, Pingoy 2, Cani 0, Capacio 0, Ikeh 0, Wong 0.
Quarter scores: 12-9, 26-30, 42-52, 68-58.