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Gritty UST ousts valiant Ateneo

By Josiah Albelda Posted Sep 18th 2013

Karim Abdul carried the UST Growling Tigers as they clinched the last Final Four berth and in the process dethroned the five-time champion Ateneo Blue Eagles.

The long reign is over.

Ateneo de Manila University saw its five-year reign atop the league come to a screeching halt as University of Santo Tomas ousted them in an 82-74 thriller in the 76th UAAP men's basketball tournament Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Growling Tigers pushed the Blue Eagles' back against the walls early in the game, with Karim Abdul imposing his will en route to 19 points in the first two quarters.

UST took a 37-19 lead off a Jeric Teng jumper late in the second quarter as the Tigers approached the break armed with a 39-26 advantage.

But Ateneo, who will miss the Final Four for the first time in 15 years, came back fighting in the third period as Chris Newsome, Kiefer Ravena and Ryan Buenafe connived to lift the Eagles to a 48-45 lead with 2:23 left before the fourth.

After JP Erram scored off a outback to put Ateneo ahead, 51-49, the Espana-based squad pushed the Eagles on the verge of defeat anew with a 16-2 run to build a 65-53 lead with 7:02 remaining in the game.

Clark Bautista fired two triples in that stretch while Aljon Mariano -- silent throughout the game because of foul trouble -- started to inflict damage for UST.

Ravena sparked a 9-2 burst as Ateneo drew to within 67-62 with less than five minutes left on the clock before Abdul sparked an 8-0 blitz for the Tigers, who erected a 75-62 lead with only 2:34 remaining.

The Eagles, though, did not give up, racking off nine points in just 27 seconds as they threatened to pull the rug from under UST at 77-71 with 52 ticks left.

However, the Tigers would not be denied as Teng and Abdul proved to be steady on the line and made seven of eight free-throws to seal their eighth win.

"I give credit sa mga bata," said coach Pido Jarencio. "Sabi nila, lalaban pa daw sila. It's all about puso and then pride."

Abdul led all scorers with 25 points and nine rebounds while Teng exploded in the fourth quarter to finish with 17 points and nine boards.

"Mahirap kung galing ka sa Finals tapos wala ka sa Final Four," Jarencio added. "At least ngayon yung record natin medyo nandun pa rin."

UST will face top-ranked National University in the semifinals on Sunday.

Ravena top scored for Ateneo with 20 markers, six rebounds and five assists even as Newsome provided hustle and energy to post 13 points and seven boards.

The scores:

UST (82) – Abdul 25, Teng 17, Daquioag 13, Ferrer 10, Mariano 7, Bautista 6, Sheriff 4, Pe 0, Lo 0, Lao 0.

Ateneo (74) – Ravena 20, Newsome 13, Elorde 12, Buenafe 9, Pessumal 8, Golla 4, Erram 4, Tolentino 2, Tiongson 2, Capacio 0.

Quarter scores: 25-14, 30-26, 52-51, 82-74.