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Red hot UE notches fourth straight win

By Paolo Mariano Posted Aug 15th 2013

The University of the East extended its winning streak to four after a gut-it-out win over a hard-luck University of Santo Tomas.

Boysie Zamar pounded his chest and repeatedly pointed with both index fingers to the red and white-clad crowd when the final buzzer sounded at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

He had a grin as wide as the sideline.

It looked like he just won a tightly fought election campaign.

But even though it wasn’t as huge as a political victory, it was indeed a close one for the University of the East (UE) head coach.

UE gutted out a nail-biting come-from-behind 68-67 victory against a hobbled University of Santo Tomas (UST) on Thursday in the 76th UAAP men’s senior basketball tournament.

Firebrand guard Roi Sumang scored the game-winning layup after blowing past Ed Daquioag on a left elbow isolation with 11 seconds left.

UST had a chance to steal the win but Clark Bautista fumbled his pass, forcing Kevin Ferrer to heave a difficult fall-away from the right wing, which hit nothing but air.

With the victory, the Recto-based squad extended its winning streak to four games and is now tied with National University at second place with 5-3 records. The squad also snapped its five-game losing spell to the Growling Tigers.

“I like our team being labeled as ‘hottest’ right now, but we’ll take it from here. This is the second round, every game will be tough. The important thing is we’re among the leaders,” said Zamar.

It was another heroic effort for Sumang, who pumped in 12 of his team-high 20 points in the payoff period, including UE’s last two baskets. The Red Warriors outscored UST in the fourth quarter, 21-9.   

An unsuccessful drive by Daquioag led to an unmolested layup for the 5-foot-8 Sumang with 20 seconds left, cutting UST’s lead to one, 67-66. In the ensuing possession, Kevin Ferrer stepped out of bounds after an errant crosscourt pass from Daquioag off a timeout, setting up the King Red Warrior’s game-winner.

“It’s all about having the biggest heart. I once again took the responsibility of taking the clutch shot. Fortunately, it worked,” said Sumang, who finished with a double-double after dishing a season-high 10 assists.

The Growling Tigers actually held a 58-49 lead entering the final quarter after outscoring UE in the previous salvo, 20-10. The Red Warriors, however, quickly unleashed a blistering 12-0 run, eight coming from Sumang to close the gap halfway through the period.

UST answered with a 7-0 blast to up its lead to six, 65-59. But Lord Casajeros made five straight points to cut the margin to one, 65-64 with a 3:06 left. From then on, the Red Warriors shackled the boys from España, who only managed two points—two charities from Karim Abdul—in the final three minutes.

Ralf Olivares backstopped Sumang with 15 points, all in the first half, while Charles Mammie registered another double-double with 10 markers and 15 rebounds.

“These boys aren’t car parts that you can just change instantly, it’s all about patience. It’s a lot like farming, you plant the seeds and you wait for them to grow,” said Zamar, who has a proclivity for post-game balladry.   

The Red Warriors, who lead the league in turnover points, once again capitalized on UST’s errors, scoring 16 markers, doubling the Growling Tigers’ total.

UE survived a Herculean effort from Abdul, who finished with 23 points and 20 boards, outclassing Mammie in their much-anticipated skirmish.

The game, however, was a costly one for Aljon Mariano, who suffered a left ankle sprain, the same one he injured prior to the season, after a cringe-inducing landing midway through the third quarter and did not return. He, however, said that it’s nothing serious.

The team is already playing without star guard Jeric Teng and reserves Jan Macasaet and Edcor Marata due to injuries.

The Growling Tigers, who have lost back-to-back outings, are now tied with Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University at third place with even 4-4 slates.


The scores:

UE 68 – Sumang 20, Olivares 15, Mammie 10, Santos 6, Noble 5 Casajeros 5, Galanza 3, Sumido 2, Javier 2, Olayon 0, Pujante 0, Jumao-as 0, Hernandez 0, Guion 0

UST 67 – Abdul 23, Bautista 13, Ferrer 12, Daquioag 12, Mariano 4, Hainga 2, Lo 1, Sheriff 0, Pe 0, Faundo 0