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UST and UE looking for more breathing room

By Paolo Mariano Posted Aug 15th 2013

UST and UE look to separate themselves from the rest of the muddled pack as they battle each other in today's main event.

University of Santo Tomas (UST) and University of the East (UE) look to carve more space from the rest of the pack in the jumbled team standings as they face each other in the continuation of the UAAP Season 76 men’s senior basketball tournament.

They will battle at 4 p.m. in the main offering of Thursday’s double-header at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. 

The two teams, tied for third place with 4-3 slates, are coming off opposite results in their final assignments in the opening round, with the Red Warriors registering a breezy win over hapless University of the Philippines and the Growling Tigers suffering a close loss to Ateneo de Manila University.

Roi Sumang and Charles Mammie, undeniably the best big man-guard combo in the league, will look to carry UE anew, with the 6-foot-8 import from Sierra Leone expected to be more motivated since he sat out their first round meeting due to a suspension.

His well-anticipated face-off with UST’s Karim Abdul, who has been below par this season, will finally happen as they both look to dominate the paint.

The speedster Sumang, meanwhile, will look to continue his momentum after a strong first round with career-high averages of 19.0 PPG, second best in the league, on top of 5.7 RPG, 4.0 APG, and 1.1 SPG.

The role-playing bunch of Ralf Olivarez, Chris Javier, Lord Casajeros, and Adrian Santos are also seen to contribute for the recharged boys from Recto.

But despite a laudable showing in the first round, already surpassing their 3-11 finish in 2012, head coach Boysie Zamar knows they have to play harder.

“We’re realistic. We know we don’t have a huge advantage from the teams below the standings,” said Zamar, who took over the UE reigns in the second round of last season.

The Growling Tigers, meanwhile, are still groping for the form that took them all the way to the finals last year.

The injury to top gunslinger Jeric Teng has surely affected the team’s strategy and it’s still unknown when he’ll return to the court. The good news is his shoulder sling has been removed and he’s already participating in drills during practices.

In the meantime, the talented foursome of Abdul, Aljon Mariano, Kevin Ferrer, and Clark Bautista will have to carry the España armada, with the vastly improved Ed Daquioag and defender Kim Lo providing support.

“We’re ready with or without Jeric, we have a game plan, especially for Sumang and Mammie. I just hope my veterans will step up, pasulput-sulpot ‘yung laro nila e (they’ve been inconsistent),” said fiery head coach Pido Jarencio.

The match-up is primed to be a gung-ho affair as both crews like to push the ball off turnovers and score in transition. Defense will be a telling factor as UST only allows 67.9 PPG, while UE gives up 75.7, second and second to the last in the league, respectively.

In the first round, the Growling Tigers downed the Red Warriors, 88-77. Capitalizing on the absence of Mammie, Abdul finished with a monster double-double of 25 points and 13 rebounds. Mariano and Daquioag also chipped in career-highs of 24 and 19 markers.

UE hopes to snap its five-game losing streak to UST.

The game will air live on Studio 23, BALLS HD 167, and with a replay on Saturday on BALLS SkyCable channel 34/Destiny Cable channel 36.