Posted Feb 16th 2014
Tigers return to Finals with historic win
By Anthony Divinagracia Posted Sep 28th 2013
Count University of Santo Tomas (UST) to history.
The fourth-seeded Tigers embraced immortality on Saturday, gutting out top-ranked National University (NU) in a dramatic – and historic – fashion to enter the Finals of the 76th UAAP men’s basketball tournament at the jam-packed MOA Arena.
Riding on the mighty shoulders of graduating captain Jeric Teng, Kevin Ferrer, and Aljon Mariano, the Tigers ended the Bulldogs’ season with a thrilling 76-69 victory and became the first no.4 team in UAAP history to barge into the Finals.
Ferrer again proved steadier in the clutch, nailing seven of his 18 points in the make-or-break fourth quarter to break the heart of NU main man Ray Parks and the rest of the Bulldogs, whose Final Four misery continues against the never-say-die Tigers of coach Pido Jarencio for the second straight year.
“Hindi ko akalain na aabot kami sa Finals. Speechless ako ngayon. Marami kasi ang nagdududa sa kakayahan ko,” said a teary-eyed Jarencio who immediately stepped out of the press room to compose himself.
But the Tigers, time and again, proved Jarencio’s naysayers wrong, showing unwavering guts and perseverance althroughout the contest to arrange a best-of-three Finals showdown with De La Salle University starting on Wednesday.
With Ferrer again putting the clamps on Parks, the Tigers held NU scoreless in the last four minutes of the payoff period before unleashing a telling 11-0 blast to seize control, 69-61, for good.
“Destiny ‘to para sa amin. Gusto naming gumawa ng history at para na rin kina Teng at (Clark) Bautista (sa mga graduating players),” said Ferrer, who started that big finishing run with a dagger triple with 4:16 to play.
“Lahat kami nag-deliver”.
He was right.
Down 33-37, the Tigers leaned on Teng and Ferrer, who presided over a 12-6 exchange to wrest the lead, 45-43, with 2:56 left in the third.
Mariano then sank a pair of gift shots and Ferrer nailed a triple – his third in the contest – for a 50-44 UST edge 50-44, before Denice Villamor canned a trey and Troy Rosario drilled a buzzer-beater to move within one going into the payoff period.
NU opened with a seven-point swing capped by a Nico Javellona triple to regain the upperhand, 56-52. But Teng swished a leaner and Ferrer knocked in three charities to inch ahead. Robin Rono then responded with a triple and Gelo Alolino barrelled for a lay-up off a John Sheriff foul that gave NU its last taste of the lead, 61-59, before the Tigers emphatically roared to history.
“We were blessed to be back in the Finals,” said Teng, who led UST with 19 points, including ten in the second half. The 2009 Rookie of the Year will meet younger brother Jeron in an intriguing Teng vs. Teng title match-up.
Mariano added 12 points and ten rebounds to offset Karim Abdul’s so-so performance. Abdul, who was hounded by foul trouble, wound up with six markers. UST also killed NU in second chance points, 7-0.
John Sheriff again stabilized the Tigers’ offense in the pivotal moments of the fourth en route to six points and five assists. The Tigers' backcourt revelation laced his superb quarterbacking with a steal off a pass intended for Parks for an open lay-up to cap UST's game-clinching 11-0 attack with 1:04 remaining.
Parks top-scored for NU with 15 but couldn’t pull the Bulldogs together in the final minute after muffing a three-pointer and a lay-up. He even missed a crucial pass from Rono which resulted in a turnover with 53.6 seconds left before cramping down on the sidelines in distraught.
Emmanuel Mbe and Alolino each had 10 points for NU, which last played a championship game back in 1970. The loss also denied NU of a golden opportunity to finally arrest a 59-year title drought since winning the title way back in 1954.
UST 76 – Teng 19, Ferrer 18, Mariano 12, Bautista 8, Sheriff 6, Abdul 6, Daquioag 3, Lo 2, Pe 1, Lao 1, Hainga 0.
NU 69 – Parks 15, Mbe 10, Alolino 10, Javellona 9, Villamor 8, Rosario 6, Rono 6, Khobuntin 3, Javillonar2 2, Porter 0, Neypes 0, Alejandro 0.
Quarter scores: 19-10, 31-31, 50-49, 76-69.