Saturday, 11 May 2013 13 Comments
Jeric Teng, Kevin Ferrer, Aljon Mariano, Kim Lo, Tata Bautista, Paulo Pe, Ed Daquioag–nearly all of University of Santo Tomas’ main wards are playing in the PBA’s Developmental League (D-League).
Jeric Teng is sidelined by a sprain he incurred during the Tigers’ practice last Wednesday. And slotman Karim Abdul arrived late and never came into the game.
Despite exhaustion and missing the services of two of their main guys, UST was still able to will themselves to their third win against the pesky Letran Knights in the FilOil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup at the Arena in San Juan.
Colegio de San Juan de Letran started off strong, leading the Tigers at the end of the first, 21-23.
After trailing by four, 39-43, to end the first half, the Knights figured in an unforgiving onslaught in the third canto as they outscored UST, 22-9.
Raymond Almazan injected the much needed energy for Letran when he slammed the rock home off the break, tying the count at 43 all to start the third.
Guard Mark Cruz fed off of his teammate’s energy as he quickly buried two consecutive treys to put his Knights on top, 50-45, at the 5:55 mark.
UST kept on missing from point blank range and was plagued by sloppy play on both ends of the floor.
“Wala, pagod na pagod na talaga (the players). Kawawa naman,” remarked head coach Pido Jarencio of how his players have been enduring a rough schedule as they juggled commitments with both UST and their respective D-League teams.
Letran, however, capitalized on UST’s miserable third quarter meltdown as back-to-back baskets by Almazan–comprised of another jam and a completed and-one play–opened up a 10-point advantage for his team, 59-49, with 1:25 left in the third.
Letran looked to be on their way to a comfortable victory as they not only finished the third with a 9-point lead over UST, 52-61, but they even extended that lead come the final period.
A pull-up jumper by Cruz handed Letran their biggest lead of the contest at 52-69 with 7:15 left to play.
Faced with a 17-point deficit to overcome in the final stretch, Coach Pido knew he had to call out his boys and wake them up before it was too late.
“Ginising lang natin yung mga bata,” he said as he urged the Tigers to commit fully on defense.
In true UST-basketball fashion, the Tigers mounted another comeback as they went on a 9-0 run sparked by a three-point play by Aljon Mariano.
Mariano was three boards shy of a double-double performance as he topscored for the Tigers with 18 points to go with seven rebounds, one assist and one steal.
Kevin Ferrer nailed a crucial trey with 3:47 left on the clock, carrying his team to within six, 66-72, as the Tigers banged on Letran’s door.
“Si Kevin (Ferrer) makita mo latang lata na eh,” said Coach Pido of Ferrer who is currently also playing for Blackwater Sports, which looks to be going to the playoffs.
Ferrer dug deep to overcome fatigue, finishing with 15 markers, six boards, two dimes, and one steal.
The Tigers also cashed in on their airtight defense, employing full-court pressure and forcing Letran to commit crucial turnovers. Their defensive stand would prove to be the difference maker towards the end.
With 2:27 left, Letran’s Mcjour Luib hit what was seemingly a dagger trey.
But the Tigers lived up to their reputation of coming from behind to win games. This time, Letran was the unfortunate recipient of UST’s endgame rallies.
The Knights did not score in the last two minutes as Ed Daquioag calmly sank three free throws for his nine points to bring UST closer, 71-77.
“Ayoko mapahiya kay Coach. Ang sabi niya kasi sa akin, composure tsaka kumpiyansa sa sarili eh,” remarked Daquioag.
Tata Bautista shone brightly as he scored on a breakaway. He was also responsible for the game-winning basket.
Bautista handled the ball in the dying seconds and went to the right corner for a potential three. He faked and pulled Almazan out of the paint as he drove hard to the basket and scored the go-ahead two points to notch the final tally, 78-77.
“Sinabi naman ni coach go hard lang sa basket,” said Bautista who finished with 17 points, three rebounds, four dimes, and two steals.
Coach Pido admitted that the Tigers have yet to be complete in practice, making it difficult for him to map anything out. “Kaya nga nangangapa ako sa team, sa players namin. At the same time naga-adjust kami kung ano ang pwedeng gawin.”
The good news for Coach Pido is that his team improved to a 3-2 win-loss card in Group B, tied with Letran.
Raymond Almazan and Mark Cruz led the charge for Letran with 17 and 13 points, respectively. Jamil Gabawan contributed 13 of his own including 10 rebounds.
UST (78): Mariano 18, Bautista 17, Ferrer 15, Daquioag 9, Lo 6, Pe 4, Hainga 4, Tan 3, Gavia 2, Sheriff 0, Marata 0, Lao 0, Faundo 0
Letran (77): Almazan 17, Cruz 13, Gabawan 13, Nambatac 8, Buenaflor 7, Luib 6, Publico 4, Po 3, Castro 2, Ruaya 2, Dysam 2
Quarter scores: 21-23, 43-39, 52-61, 78-77