Posted Aug 5th 2014
Tigers escape Falcons on Lao last-second split
By Anthony Divinagracia Posted Jul 26th 2014
University of Santo Tomas (UST) jumped into a rotation circus on Saturday but got out in time to escape a gritty Adamson University side in the 77th UAAP men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Kent Lao again played hero and savior for the Tigers, nailing the winning freethrow with 1.1 second left to complete a heart-stopping 50-49 getaway for UST, which improved to 2-1, but not without toiling on their paws against the Falcons’ determined stand.
“Mas lalo akong na-pressure nung namintis yung unang dalawang freethrows. Buti na lang pumasok yung huli para lumamang kami,” said Lao, who missed the front end of his two potential winning freethrows before settling down for the marginal basket.
Lao, one of the heroes in UST’s cardiac finish against Far Eastern University, muffed four gift shots including a pair with 29.6 seconds left and the Tigers trailing, 47-49.
“Di ko alam kung anong nangyari sa amin. Tentative ang mga bata. I guess kailangang mag-usap-usap ulit kami,” a dismayed UST coach Bong dela Cruz said. “As a veteran team hindi dapat ganun maging attitude ng team namin.”
The Tigers outscored the Don Trollano-less Falcons in the fourth quarter, 10-4, to hack out the squeaker. But UST’s measly perimeter shooting allowed Adamson to establish its game right in the opening frame.
“May mga shooters naman kami. Yun nga lang hindi lang pumapasok yung mga tira,” Dela Cruz rued. “Kailangan ng consistency ng mga players.”
As it turned out, the Tigers went on an eyesore 15-of-54 shooting from the field for a harrowing 28 percent clip. UST also shot bricks from three-point country with Kevin Ferrer converting the lone triple for the Tigers out of 16 attempts.
With UST’s offense stuck on Karim Abdul, Dela Cruz juggled his rotation, fielding 12 players in the opening quarter alone to hit the right mix.
But the ploy backfired as Adamson controlled the tempo with a more stable rotation. An Axel Inigo three-point play sparked a 7-2 run that propelled the Falcons up, 32-27, at the half.
The Falcons kept the Tigers in limbo, unleashing a 10-6 third-quarter attack to give Adamson its biggest lead, 42-33, with 5:48 remaining.
UST slowly cut the deficit with splits from Lao, Ferrer, and Renzo Subido to push the Tigers within, 40-45, heading into the payoff period.
Hounded by Adamson’s full court trapping defense, the Tigers hanged on their sputtering offense to salvage the ugly ending with a 9-4 run capped by a pair of freebies from Ferrer off Dawn Ochea’s fifth foul.
It was then the Lao stepped on the line, ranged out two freethrows with 28 ticks left before collaring an Abdul miss to punch a return trip to the stripe for the final count.
Louie Vigil, who pinch-hit for the fever-stricken Ed Dacquiaog, led the Tigers with 11 points and four assists, while Ferrer added 10 and five rebounds.
Karim tallied eight markers and nine boards.
Jessie Pedrosa topscored for Adamson with 10 points while Joseph Nalos chipped in nine for the Falcons, who joined University of the Philippines in the cellar at 0-3.
UST 50 – Vigil 11, Ferrer 10, Abdul 8, Mariano 7, Sheriff 4, Lao 4, Subido 2, Lo 2, Gayosa 2, Dela Cruz 0, Pe 0, Sablan 0, Macasaet 0.
ADU 49 – Pedrosa 10, Nalos 9, Inigo 7, Rios 6, Villanueva 5, Ochea 4, Aquino 3, Monteclaro 3, Baytan 2, Butron 0.
Quarter scores: 13-17, 27-32, 40-45, 50-49.