UST beats La Salle, moves 1 win closer to UAAP title
MANILA, Philippines — One win away from fulfilling destiny.
University of Santo Tomas halted De La Salle University with a 73-72 win in Game 1 of the 76th UAAP men's basketball finals Wednesday, October 2 before more than 20, 000 fans at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Growling Tigers scorched hot early, but had to survive a nip-and-tuck end game to stop the Green Archers' 9-game winning streak and move just a victory away from sealing their first title since 2006.
With Kevin Ferrer and Karim Abdul combining for 19 points, UST dropped a 21-2 bomb to take a 21-4 lead in the opening period before La Salle came back to take a 54-50 lead heading into the final period.
The Tigers, however, began the 4th with an 8-2 run sparked by a Jeric Teng triple to snatch the driver's seat and never gave it back.
A jumper by John Sheriff handed UST a 64-59 lead with over 4 minutes remaining but Almond Vosotros quickly retaliated with a 3-pointer of his own to trim it to 64-62, 3:48 left.
Aljon Mariano broke his game-long silence and Abdul drained two free-throws as the Tigers posted another 5-point spread, this time at 68-63, with 2:12 remaining on the clock.
Jason Perkins made a cold-blooded trey to bring it back to two before Jeron Teng and Arnold van Opstal sank 3 freebies to help the Archers come within 70-69 as time ticked to 1:03.
Ferrer came to UST's rescue with a dagger of a triple to push the lead to 73-69 but Jeron Teng converted a 3-point play to draw La Salle to 73-72 with 29.4 seconds left.
The Tigers bungled a chance to seal the win in the ensuing play, with Mariano turning it over and the Archers setting up for a game-winner.
Vosotros missed an open 3-point attempt from the right elbow, but LA Revilla got the offensive board. Abdul, however, was there to block the guard's attempt and put the nail on the coffin for UST.
Ferrer finished with 20 points and 6 rebounds while Jeric Teng scored 7 of his 17 markers in the final period to help the Espana-based squad book its 4th straight win.
Abdul added 19 points and 12 boards in another workmanlike effort for the Tigers.
UST can wrap it up with another win in Game 2 of the finals on Saturday, October 5 at the same venue.
Vosotros paced the Archers with 20 points while Jeron Teng added 15 markers. - Rappler.com
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