Ferrer sizzles as UST beats FEU to extend UAAP Finals series
Kevin Ferrer refused to play his final collegiate game as he sparked University of Santo Tomas past Far Eastern University, 62-56, and extended the UAAP Season 78 men's basketball Finals to a winner-take-all Game 3 on Saturday, November 28 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Ferrer exploded for 6 triples and 24 points in the third quarter alone to jolt the Growling Tigers' waning offense and turned a 21-30 halftime deficit into a 47-41 lead entering the final frame.
"We talked inside the dugout and said we would stay positive, stay focused, and enjoy the game. I got my confidence when I made my free throws, I felt my hands catch fire," said Ferrer in Filipino.
His 24-point third quarter is the most in a period since Imperium handled UAAP stats in 2003, per league statistician Pong Ducanes. The graduating team captain, who nearly fouled out with 4 in the third quarter, tied his career-high 29 points along with 10 rebounds.
Big man Karim Abdul also battled foul trouble to come up with 11 points, 6 rebounds, and a block. Abdul, who quickly snatched up 3 fouls in the opening period, sank crucial free throws down the stretch to fend off a rallying FEU.
Ed Daquioag improved on his 4-point Game 1 performance with 10 markers, 6 boards, 4 dimes, and two steals. Though the athletic guard still struggled against the Tamaraws' stifling defense with 3-of-13 shooting from the field.
"Coach told me during training yesterday that I was forgetting to smile," said a relaxed and smiling Daquioag in Filipino. "I just kept smiling like I did in previous games so the result was better."
Mac Belo led all Tamaraws with a double-double of 16 points, 11 rebounds, and two blocks. Roger Pogoy finished with 12 points and 6 rebounds as he cramped up with under 4 minutes left to play.
Raymar Jose had 9 points and 6 boards, including a solo 6-0 run in the fourth that allowed FEU to regain the lead, 54-50, with 4:45 remaining.
But shots would not fall for the Tamaraws in the final minutes as Mike Tolomia missed all 15 of his field goal attempts for just a 7-point output he collected from the free throw line. He added 8 rebounds and 6 assists, but also tallied 6 turnovers.
"It's not a concern," FEU head coach Nash Racela said of Tolomia's poor Game 2 shooting. "These are veterans so I'm sure they'll come back stronger the next time."
Big man Prince Orizu, who proved critical to FEU's Game 1 win, settled for just 3 points and 6 rebounds in over 13 minutes as he fouled out with 2:07 left.
The Tigers slowly chipped away at the Tamaraw's fourth quarter lead and, despite being the worst rebounding team in the league, secured key rebounds in the endgame to take a 58-54 edge with 30.5 ticks left.
Both teams accumulated 54 fouls with 28 going to UST during the defense-oriented Game 2 match-up before Ferrer's hot shooting quickened the pace.
"I guess he's just showing why Kiefer (Ravena) said they were co-MVPs," said Racela, whose squad dominated the boards once again, 55-42, but was limited to a horrible 27.12% field goal shooting – far from its usual 41% average. According to Ducanes, it is also the first time FEU scored below 60 points this season.
"Kevin's a veteran and we've been together during the SEA Games and with Gilas cadets so we really know what he's capable of doing. It just so happened that today it's bad for us that he exploded like that."
"I was just waiting for him to miss but it didn't happen," added Racela.
UST bounced back from a Game 1 loss to even the series and give itself a shot at potentially winning its 19th UAAP men's basketball title and its first since 2006.
The top seed Tigers are trying to come back from a 0-1 finals series deficit for the fourth time in the Final Four era.
The Tamaraws, on the other hand, are vying for its 20th title and are looking to be among the 71% of Game 1 winners who went on to claim the championship. FEU extended its finals losing streak at the Big Dome to 7 games.
Game 3 is on Wednesday, December 2.
UST (62): Ferrer 29, Abdul 11, Daquioag 10, Vigil 5, Bonleon 3, Lao 2, Lee 2, Faundo 0, Huang 0, Sheriff 0.
FEU (56):Belo 16, Pogoy 12, Jose 9, Tolomia 7, Iñigo 5, Orizu 3, Dennison 2, Tamsi 2, Arong 0, Ri. Escoto 0, Ru. Escoto 0, Trinidad 0.
Quarter scores:13-20, 21-30, 47-41, 62-56.