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Tigers go for basketball Holy Grail in Game 2

By Anthony Divinagracia Posted Oct 5th 2013

Perfectly on the brink of rewriting history yet again, UST won’t leave anything to chance when the Tigers go for no less than collegiate basketball’s Holy Grail today in Game 2.

Jeric Teng and company met Lady Luck on Wednesday.

Now, they are set to date Destiny.

Perfectly on the brink of rewriting history yet again, University of Santo Tomas (UST) won’t leave anything to chance when the Tigers go for no less than collegiate basketball’s Holy Grail today at 3:30 p.m. in Game 2 of the 76th UAAP men’s basketball finals at the Araneta Coliseum.

Riding on the crest of a pulsating Game 1 victory, the Tigers growl for La Salle’s ultimate ouster at 3:30 p.m. to sweep the best-of-three series and become the first no.4 seed in league history  to raise the UAAP cage title since the Final Four format was institutionalized in 1994.

“We have nothing to lose in this series,” UST coach Pido Jarencio said moments after the Tigers escaped the Archers by the skin of their teeth, 73-72, in a heart-wrenching Game 1 finish to grab a 1-0 series lead.

“Itong team na ito upset-conscious. Galing kami sa ilalim. Trabaho lang kami. Nagpapasalamat kami sa Diyos at sa dasal ng UST community. Pero hindi pa ito tapos until makuha namin yung Game 2. It’s now or never (ang mindset namin) dito.”

Like Jarencio, Teng, the Tigers’ acknowledged leader on the court, also wants to end it today.

“I want this to be my last playing day in the UAAP,” said the graduating UST captain who had 17 points, seven rebounds and three assists in Game 1. “I want to end my UAAP career with a championship for UST, no less. We want to win this today.”

Kevin Ferrer, who led the Tigers in Game 1 with 20 points built around five triples, expressed optimism and readiness to give UST its first championship since 2006.

“Basta kami ready kami sa Game 2. Ako, naredeem ko na sarili ko kahit papaano. Vindicated ako. Lalo ngayon, more blessings ito kapag nakuha naming ‘to,” said the former UAAP juniors MVP.

Aside from Teng and Ferrer, UST will also lean on three-time Mythical Five member Karim Abdul, Aljon Mariano, Clark Bautista, Ed Daquioag, and revelation guard John Sheriff.

The 6-foot-6 Abdul backstopped Ferrer with 19 markers and 12 boards against La Salle’s imposing frontline anchored on Jason Perkins, Arnold Van Opstal, and Norbert Torres. But Abdul’s finest moment came in the waning seconds of the fourth when he blocked a last-gasp LA Revilla lay-up to preserve the Tigers’ victory.

Mariano for his part wound up with only two points and committed a crucial turnover down the stretch while containing the versatile Perkins, who had a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds, all game long.

La Salle though remained unfazed despite plunging in its first do-or-die game this season.

“We have to shoot better in all departments,” La Salle coach Juno Sauler said. “And we also have to do well in defending their shots.”

With Perkins, Van Opstal and Norbert Torres in the middle, the Archers outscored the Tigers in the paint, 44-14. But La Salle gave up the perimeter to UST, which made 19 of its 37 shots for a 51.3 percent clip. La Salle on the other hand just made five of its 30 attempts (16.6 percent) to trail the Tigers from the outside, 14-45.

Despite La Salle’s sour perimeter shooting, Almond Vosotros sizzled with 20 points, including three triples before his last heave, a wide-open look from behind the arc, clanged out in the last six seconds of the game.

Sauler believed La Salle still have what it takes to force the winner-take-all Game 3 by exploiting its height and heft advantage against the Tigers.

“We’ll keep milking the post. If they collapse, then we just have to tell our guards to be open and ready to shoot.”

Vosotros will again be one of the focal points of La Salle’s perimeter game alongside Revilla, Thomas Torres, Oda Tampus, and even Luigi dela Paz who are all expected to step up and match the backcourt power of UST.

Jeron Teng, who contributed 15 points and seven rebounds for La Salle in Game 1, is also tipped to lead the Archers with his vaunted slashing game.

On the other hand, Perkins, Van Opstal, and Norbert Torres are seen to gang up on Abdul’ underneath and consequently neutralize UST’s inside offense.

The game will air live on ABS-CBN, BALLS HD 167, and It can also be heard on radio via DZMM 630 AM. The replays will air tonight at 9 p.m. on Studio 23 and on Sunday at 2 p.m. on BALLS SkyCable channel 34 or Destiny Cable channel 36.