UST defeats NU to avenge first round loss
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – University of Santo Tomas made sure there would be no room for a stinging game-winner when they defeated National University, 65-57, in the second round of the men's basketball tournament of UAAP Season 78 Saturday, October 17 at the Mall of Asia Arena. (READ: Defending UAAP champ NU gets first win over UST)
The Growling Tigers got back at the defending champions for a heartbreaking first round defeat thanks to an unlikely game-winning shot by big man Alfred Aroga.
"Nakabawi na kami (We finally bound back)," head coach Bong Dela Cruz said smiling.
"They beat us in the first round and that became our battlecry, to get back at them," he added in Filipino.
Veteran Kevin Ferrer led the charge for UST with a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds including a block. Big man Karim Abdul also had 13 points on top of 8 rebounds.
Abdul was the defender when Aroga buried his looping jumper close to the 3-point line in mid-September. The graduating UST center did not forget it.
"I’ll tell you I felt hurt the last game," the 6-foot-6 Abdul said in Filipino. "And we were able to bounce back."
The Tigers extended their win streak to 5 and gained a share of first place once more with the FEU Tamaraws at 8-1. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, dropped 3 straight games and remained outisde of the top 4 with a 3-6 record.
"When we found out NU would be our next opponent, from the start of training we set our minds that we would bounce back. So we doubled our efforts," said Ferrer.
Those efforts nearly went to waste after UST squandered a double digit lead in the payoff period as veteran guard Gelo Alolino spearheaded an NU comeback by pouring 10 points in the last 10 minutes of play.
Alolino knocked down a wide open three-pointer to briefly take the lead, 55-54, with 4:15 remaining. He also scored 5 points in an 8-0 run to open the fourth that quickly chopped down the 11-point advantage UST built after the third.
After Abdul missed two free throws as UST trailed, it seemed NU would once again engineer a solid come-from-behind victory. But Ed Daquioag and Louie Vigil responded with a couple of baskets off defensive stops to reclaim the edge for good, 58-55.
JJ Alejandro kept the Bulldogs within striking distance with a one-hander, 58-57, with 1:41 left but the struggling NU came up empty in 3 straight possessions before Daquioag scored over Nico Javelona for the 60-57 cushion with 1:22 to go.
As the black and gold gallery bowed their heads and put their hands together on the rainy Saturday, Ferrer and Abdul converted 4 straight free throws for the final tally.
Abdul was every bit a picture of relief after making his two charities, watching the second one trickle in before letting out a solid howl and uttering an expletive.
"Our start was good. But they had a run and I knew they would come back," Dela Cruz said of the near meltdown. "What we needed was our composure and we had that in the fourth."
Daquioag finished with 10 points, 4 rebounds and two assists while Louie Vigil and Mario Bonleon added 8 points apiece.
Alolino hit a game-high 20 points including 7 rebounds in the loss as Aroga tallied a double-double of 14 markers and 17 boards.
UST (65): Abdul 13, Ferrer 13, Daquioag 10, Bonleon 8, Vigil 8, Lao 7, Lee 6, Faundo 0, Sheriff 0, Subido 0.
NU (57): Alolino 20, Aroga 14, Alejandro 7, Javelona 6, Diputado 4, Celda 2, Tansingco 2, Abatayo 0, Javillonar 0, Morido 0, Neypes 0.
Quarter scores: 20-14, 35-23, 51-40, 65-57.