Saturday, 6 July 2013 6 Comments
Kevin Ferrer is a Tiger with wings. And he proved that once he has taken flight, anyone will be hard pressed to bring him back down.
He took off and led the UST Growling Tigers to a 67-62 victory and a 2-0 slate at the expense of the Adamson Soaring Falcons in the first round of eliminations of UAAP Season 76, Saturday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Not surprisingly, the start of the match was not indicative of how it would end.
Sputtering, cold, sloppy.
Those three words best describe how the Tigers started off their second assignment against the Falcons.
Even Ferrer produced only five points in the first two quarters, following Aljon Mariano with seven. Mariano eventually finished with only eight.
“Actually, disappointment yung first half namin eh. Medyo may mga problema kami noon,” admitted UST head coach Pido Jarencio.
But with 40 minutes of basketball, the winner obviously won’t be determined by the first 20 minutes alone.
As if they were never really able to shake off their diesel style of play from last season, the Tigers had trouble creating anything for themselves during the first half.
They were hampered by unforced errors ranging from bad passes to traveling infractions.
Despite nailing three treys in the first half, UST still lacked fluidity in their offense, forcing Coach Pido Jarencio to experiment with a variety of player combinations.
And the Falcons, proving how truly dangerous they can be when given merely an inch, sank their claws and played the game they were most comfortable in.
Capitalizing with an Ingrid Sewa jam and a Jericho Cruz takeaway that resulted in a basket, the Falcons looked to be in sync as they outscored the Tigers, 12-8, in the second quarter to go into halftime with a proud 34-26 lead.
However, the second half was the story of this game.
Adamson failed to bring their momentum with them to the third canto, allowing UST to build one of their own as they opened that period with a much needed trey by Clark Bautista, who had nine points.
That sparked a 17-2 run that turned the tides almost permanently to the side of the España-based cagers.
UST was able to successfully execute their running system behind the multiple, and at times consecutive, steals they forced on Adamson.
During that third quarter charge, UST outscored the woeful Falcons, 19-7, to enter the payoff period with a four-point advantage, 45-41.
Everybody thought that UST would cruise to their second straight win after a Jeric Teng bucket off a Kim Lo steal put them on top, 55-43, with under seven minutes left to play.
That’s when the tides nearly shifted to favor Adamson.
With 1:29 left, Ferrer unfurled his wings completely as he swiped the rock and went all the way for what looked like the dagger to claim a 10-point lead, 63-53.
Ferrer finished with 17 big points, scattering 12 of those in the crucial second half. He also grabbed four rebounds, dished two assists and even had four blocks to his name.
“Sinabi ko kay Jeric (Teng) na lead mo kami sa game tapos kami susunod,” remarked Ferrer.
But Adamson’s Celedonio Trollano had other plans. Plans that are much bigger than what he could have imagined.
Trollano was the ultimate saving grace for the Falcons as he buried two consecutive cold-blooded treys that brought his team to within a manageable distance, 63-59, with 41 seconds left.
As Jeric Teng struggled from the stripe in two ensuing plays, making only one of his four charities, the door was left wide open for the Falcons.
And the Falcons definitely held on to that door as Roider Cabrera swished a bucket from beyond the arc to come closer, 64-62, with 30 seconds left.
Fortunately, Coach Pido had a panic button and knew exactly when to hit it.
“Sino bang akalain makakapag-three points yung Trollano, kalayo layo. Nagulat ako dalawang three points. Mabigat yun eh,” Coach Pido explained.
“Kampante na nga kami, biglang tumira ng dalawang three points. Dumikit. Eh mayroon na tayong pang-panic button. Nakapag-adjust kaagad.”
Coach Pido designed a play for his go-to guy Teng and the fifth year guard did not disappoint.
Teng clocked in his 15th point via a jumper off an isolation play that was the proverbial dagger, putting the Tigers up 66-62 with 16 seconds left.
“Nung first half medyo nanggigil kami. Nagkanya-kanya kami. Kaya nung halftime talaga nag-usap kami as a team. Siguro doon na makikita yung pagsasamahan ng team namin. Medyo solid na kami ngayon. By second half lahat kami iisa lang mindset: Mahabol ang Adamson and manalo,” said Teng during the post-game interview.
Teng showcased more of his nifty moves beneath the rim in this game as he went 6 of 11 from the field and also grabbed six boards.
Mariano then sealed the deal with a charity in the final seven seconds, pushing UST to the top of the standings.
“Ano ‘tong mga ‘to eh, winners. Napag-champion ang PCCL, champion ng MBL, champion ng D-League. Okay na. May composure na ‘tong mga batang ‘to. Matibay sa laban,” said Coach Pido.
Centers for both squads effectively cancelled each other out, going at it underneath but producing numbers below their usual contributions.
Karim Abdul, who only figured in two points in the first half, finished with a measly six points and three boards.
Ingrid Sewa, on the other hand, had a monster first half with 13 points but was unable to convert any of his attempts in the second half, making that number his final output to go along with his 10 rebounds.
Jericho Cruz led the way for the Falcons with 15 points, eight boards, seven assists, and one steal.
For UST, it’s their tight-knit friendships within the team that gave them this win. And when they face the juggernaut that is the National University Bulldogs on Wednesday, they will be relying on that same teamwork to pull through.
“Malakas (ang) NU. Sila ang seeded this year eh. Kami backup lang. Tignan lang natin. Basta kami three days preparation. Ready naman ‘tong mga bata. Okay naman ‘to. Medyo beterano na maglaro, kaya kahit anong sitwasyon, nakakapag-adjust kami,” Coach Pido concluded.
UST (67): Ferrer 17, Teng 15, Bautista 9, Mariano 8, Daquioag 7, Abdul 6, Lo 5, So 0, Sheriff 0, Pe 0, Hainga 0
ADAMSON (62): Cruz 15, Sewa 13, Cabrera 11, Brondial 9, Trollano 6, Julkipili 4, Petilos 3, Iñigo 1, Rios 0, Monteclaro 0, Agustin 0
18-22, 26-34, 45-41, 67-62
Members of the Adamson Falcons lost their cellphones and some cash in their dugout. The discovery was made shortly after their loss against the UST Tigers. According to head coach Leo Austria, it seemed that whoever broke into the team’s dugout did so well before halftime since one of their utility men already noticed a bag left open during the break. Investigations were ongoing until the second game of the afternoon.