UST rally falls short as UE earns critical win
MANILA, Philippines – This time around, there was no comeback for University of Sto. Tomas.
Leaning on the career scoring performance and clutch shots of Clark Derige, the UE Red Warriors held on to their lead late against the UST Growling Tigers to win their fourth game of UAAP Season 78, 91-77, and stay in the hunt for a Final Four seed on Wednesday, November 4, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The win improved the record of University of the East to 4-7 as they remain one game behind in the loss column against 5-6 La Salle, who’s the current fourth seed in the league standings.
UST, which could have attained at least a playoff for the number two seed with a win, fell to 9-3 and lost for the second time in their last 3 games.
“As I’ve told the boys, we have to play with a sense of urgency,” Red Warriors head coach Derrick Pumaren said following the contest. “We know that we still have a shot of making it to the Final Four - maybe a tie for the last slot - so we have to play with a sense of urgency.”
UE was on fire from the get go as they raced off to a 20-15 lead after one quarter and was ahead by one, 39-38, after the first half, where they shot 50% from the floor.
The Warriors used a 23-14 third quarter to build a 10-point lead entering the fourth, where with 7:43 left they extended their edge to 67-56.
UST got within two, 73-71, with less than 3 minutes to go as they looked en route to another come-from-behind win, but Derige and company hit the big shots after the hold on.
“Clark had a career-high. He was making those tough shots. I know he can make that shot. He just has to give that full concentration every game. Hopefully this will be his break out game and he [will play] consistent basketball,” Pumaren said after.
Derige finished with 26 points on 10-of-18 shooting - mostly jumpers - as well as 6 rebounds, while Chris Javier accounted for 13 points, 6 boards, and 3 assists. Paul Varilla and Nick Abanto, who had the back-breaking layup late, finished with 10 points each.
Fifth-year big man Karim Abdul led the Growling Tigers with 25 points, 15 boards, and 3 assists, while Ed Daquioag registered 11 points, 6 dimes, and 5 boards. Kevin Ferrer also had 10 points, while Louie Vigil and Marvin Lee finished with 9 points apiece.
“I think we played 40 minutes of good basketball. We played more consistently,” said Pumaren, who was also pleased at how his guys handled the pressure against UST.
“We know they were going to come back because UST is a good team. I’m proud the boys responded.”
After Ferrer’s big triple, Derige hit one from long range himself and then converted another basket after a UST turnover, 78-71.
Lee and Daquioag then took turns missing big shots for UST, who saw the deficit climb to 80-71 after Abanto’s layup with 1:44 to go.
Later with 1:14 left, Abanto converted two free throws to put his team ahead 85-74, essentially sealing the win.
UE has remaining games against Adamson, Ateneo, and UP. A win against each team is critical for a better shot at the Final Four.
“They know we are trying to stay alive. We know we have at least a chance to get there… up to the very last game, it will be every important,” said Pumaren.
UST will take on FEU and Adamson before their elimination round campaign ends.
UE (91): Derige 26, Javier 13, Abanto 10, Varilla 10, Batiller 9, Charcos 8, Manalang 6, Palma 4, Gagate 2, Varilla 2, Sta Ana 1
UST (77): Abdul 25, Daquioag 11, Ferrer 10, Vigil 9, Lee 9, Lao 6, Sheriff 4, Bonleon 2, Subido 1, Garrido 0
Quarter scores: 20-15, 39-38, 62-52, 91-77 – Rappler.com