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'Lucky' Tigers draw first blood

By Josiah Albelda Posted Oct 2nd 2013

Kevin Ferrer led UST with 20 points and went five of eight from beyond the three-point arc to lift UST past DLSU in Game 1 of the Finals.

In the words of Jeric Teng, the Growling Tigers just got lucky.

University of Santo Tomas escaped with a 73-72 win over De La Salle University in Game 1 of the 76th UAAP men's basketball championship Wednesday at the wild and roaring Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Holding a precarious one-point lead, the Tigers threw the ball away with 29 seconds left, but were fortunate to see two attempts by the Green Archers fail to find the bottom of the net as UST stepped just one win away from the title.

"Thankfully, the breaks of the game went our way," admitted Teng in the post-game press conference. "Muntik nang manalo ang La Salle, swerte lang kami."

But the Tigers wouldn't have been in a position to wing if not for Teng, who rifled in seven of his 17 points in the final quarter, when the Espana-based squad rallied from a deficit to move closer to booking their first championship since 2006.

"There is really no substitute for experience," Teng, who was with the UST squad that fell short in the finals last year, said.

Kevin Ferrer scored 20 points, many of them in a searing first-quarter blast that saw the Tigers race to a 21-4 lead with 2:37 left in the period.

No Ferrer basket was bigger, though, than the one he drilled with 41 seconds remaining -- a three-pointer that gave the Tigers a 73-69 advantage that proved to be enough.

"Pag ang player, may puso, iba 'yup," said coach Pido Jarencio. "Tatagal ka sa ginagawa mo."

Karim Abdul added 19 points and 12 rebounds for UST, which stopped La Salle's UAAP-best nine-game winning streak while also posting their fourth straight victory.

Meanwhile, Almond Vosotros woke up from a slump to deliver 20 points for the Archers, but even double-figure outputs from Jeron Teng (15), Arnold van Opstal (13) and Jason Perkins (11) could not push La Salle to the win.

Game 2 will be on Saturday, with the Tigers possessing the chance to secure a second championship for Jarencio.

The scores:

UST (73) - Ferrer 20, Abdul 19, Teng 17, Sheriff 6, Daquioag 4, Bautista 3, Mariano 2, Lao 2, Pe 0, Lo 0

DLSU (72) - Vosotros 20, Teng 15, Van Opstal 13, Perkins 11, T. Torres 7, Revilla 4, N. Torres 2, Tampus 0, Reyes 0, Montalbo 0, De La Paz 0

Quarters: 23-13, 38-31, 50-54, 73-72