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Tiger Power! Ferrer wills UST past FEU, sets up winner-take-all tilt

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21,933 fans were witnesses to one of the greatest UAAP Finals performance of all time.

After a horrible first half by next season’s hosts, University of Santo Tomas senior Kevin Ferrer drove his team forward, scoring 24 third quarter points to give the Growling Tigers the lead and the confidence to send the series to a winner-take-all Game Three. Making the necessary stops in the end, UST were able to escape the Far Eastern Tamaraws, 62-56, early Saturday evening in Game Two of the UAAP Men’s Basketball Finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The coach Nash Racela-mentored squad used the same starting line-up they utilized in Game One while the Growling Tigers replaced Kent Lao for Louie Vigil in the starting five. The Tamaraws started strong for an early 5-2 lead behind Ron Dennison and Achie Inigo. UST was able to gain the lead behind Kevin Ferrer’s and Ed Daquioag’s slashing that led to free throws and a momentarily lead. After excellent stops that led to a timeout by Nash Racela, the Tamaraws held their opponents to just a single point for the next four minutes, while Mac Belo scored four straight points. Moreover, the Green-and-Gold were able to slap Karim Abdul with his third foul with 57.2 remaning. The Tamaraws ended the quarter strong for a 20-13 lead to end the first quarter.

The second frame was an offensive struggle for both squads. After baskets by Kent Lao and Daquioag that cut the FEU lead to just two, Pogoy regained his touch from downtown in knocking down two consecutive triples that extended the lead to 26-20. Both teams were then held field goal-less in the last five minutes and 17 seconds of the half with free throws by Belo and Tolomia helping extend the FEU lead to nine, 30-21, to enter the break.

In a moment that will forever be enshrined in UAAP history, Kevin Ferrer changed the complexion of the game in exploding for 24 third quarter points, a UAAP record. After two consecutive turnovers by Tolomia, Ferrer knocked down to charities to cut the lead to just seven. 23 seconds later, rookie Zachy Huang screened out Ferrer’s defender for his first triple of the game. Daquioag was then able to find Ferrer for another triple over Pogoy and Russel Escoto to cut the FEU lead to just one. After a split on the charity stripe by Belo, Abdul was able to find UST’s team captain for a catch-and-shoot triple that gave UST a 32-31 lead. A turnover by Pogoy less than a minute later then lead to Ferrer banking in his fourth three-pointer in the quarter. A baseline drive by Pogoy for a reverse layup momentarily halted the momentum but was quickly answered by a Daquioag find to Ferrer for his fifth three to extend the UST lead to five, 38-33, with 5:48 remaining. After conversions by Belo that cut the lead to just three, UST’s Smart Elite ambassador posted up Ron Dennison for an easy lay-in. Ferrer’s rampage continued as he was able to shake-off Dennison after a jab step for a corner three to extend the lead to eight, 45-37. Ferrer capped his insane third quarter run with a jumper that gave UST a ten-point lead. As Ferrer sat down to take a breather with 1:55 remaining, a three-point play by Jose and a split by Tolomia cut the lead to just six, 41-47. In addition, the Tamaraws were able to gain Ferrer’s fourth foul before the quarter ended.

The Tamaraws went on a 7-3 run to start the final quarter that cut the lead to just two with 7:22 left. At the 6:13 mark, Belo was able to find Jose for a floater to tie the game at 50-all. Tolomia then broke the deadlock after a lookaway pass to Jose underneath for an easy put-in. Finally, Jose capitalized on a defensive lapse by Abdul that led to a timeout. However, a scary moment occurred for the FEU faithful as Pogoy was brought out of the game due to cramps. A split on the stripe by Abdul and a midrange jumper by Vigil again gave UST the lead, 55-54, with 2:37 left. Tolomia, who has been struggling all game, then missed a triple that led to free throws by Abdul. Misses by Belo and Tolomia compounded FEU’s problem but turnovers by UST still gave them the chance to close-out the series. Affter another Tolomia miss with 33 seconds left, a split on the stripe by Daquioag made the game a two-possession ballgame while conversions by Abdul and Ferrer on the foul stripe sealed the game for the Espana cagers, 62-56.

“Nung first game kasi nawala yung pag-enjoy ng game,” coach Bong Dela Cruz said after the game. “Naibalik namin yun at nag-enjoy kami muli mag-depensa.” Moreover, Dela Cruz added that the defense and mental toughness of the Growling Tigers returned in this game.

For Kevin Ferrer, who tied his career-high 29 points on 50% shooting from the field and grabbed ten boards, he said that they went into the game with a positive vibe. “Nag-usap kami na positive lang and just enjoy.”

On his out-of-body run in the third quarter, Ferrer disclosed that, “nag-umpisa iyon sa free throws at naramdaman ko na lang na mainit na ako.” He then credited his teammates in saying, “binigyan lang ako ng kumpiyansa ng teammates ko na tumira.”

Abdul, who tallied 11 points on 70% shooting from the foul stripe and had six boards, said that the physicality of the game was too much “but I just have to keep on moving on offense and avoid fouls.”

Ed Daquioag also made up for a dismal first game in scoring ten points but was just 3/13 from the field.

For FEU, Mac Belo led all Tamaraws in scoring with another double-double. He had 16 markers and 11 boards. He was 4/9 from the field and 8/13 from the stripe. Pogoy added 12 points on just 25% shooting in 24 minutes of action. The other member of FEU’s Big Three Mike Tolomia had a forgettable outing as he went 0/15 from the field with all of his seven points coming from the charity stripe.

Both teams shot horribly from the field with UST shooting 29% while FEU was just 27%. Fortunately for UST, they only committed seven turnovers compared to the Tamaraws’ 16 turnovers that led to a 14-5 advantage in turnover points. Finally, the Growling Tigers were able to convert on four more triples compared to the Tams that proved to be the difference in the game.

A winner-take-all Game Three between the UST Growling Tigers and the FEU Tamaraws will take place on Wednesday, December 2 at 3:30pm. The game is set to be held at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

The Scores:
UST (62) – Ferrer 29, Abdul 11, Daquioag 10, Vigil 5, Bonleon 3, Lao 2, Lee 2, Faundo 0, Huang 0, Sheriff 0.
FEU (56) – Belo 16, Pogoy 12, Jose 9, Tolomia 7, Inigo 5, Orizu 3, Tamsi 2, Dennison 2, Escoto Ru. 0, Arong 0, Escoto Ri. 0, Trinidad 0.
Quarterscores: 13-20, 21-30, 47-41, 62-56.

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Fired-up Von Pessumal on Kiefer Ravena incident: ‘I’m not here to make any friends’

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Will bridges be burned?

Von Pessumal was heavily scrutinized on Friday evening after an incident with fellow Ateneo lifer Kiefer Ravena.

It took place with 9:50 left in the final frame of the San Miguel Beermen’s highly-charged tilt against the NLEX Road Warriors. After Marcio Lassiter launched a trey, Pessumal looked like he was aiming for the rebound. Instead, he simply charged towards Ravena and pushed him down.

Lassiter’s three-pointer counted, while Pessumal, who was blocked by Ravena during a fastbreak and then received a staredown moments prior, was whistled for an unsportsmanlike foul.

It was a surprising sight to see considering the amount of time he and Ravena have spent together — a bond that started when they were in high school. Even the second-generation star admitted that he did not expect that from his former running body.

“I did not expect that at all,” said the NLEX rookie.

But Pessumal downplayed the incident despite attempts by scribes to make him elaborate on what had really transpired during that moment.

“It’s part of the game. It’s part of the game,” the league sophomore said after the match which they won 109-98. “I don’t wanna say anything, I’m sorry.

“It’s part of the game. Whatever move on. Not a big deal.”

Asked if he was motivated to face Ravena — with whom he had shared three UAAP juniors titles, two UAAP seniors crowns, and a SEA Games gold medal — the 24-year-old shared that he had approached Friday’s bout the way he usually does.

“I wouldn’t say motivated [versus Kiefer], I mean, it’s just like any other game. When I play, I don’t see who’s guarding me, I just play,” said the 6-foot-2 swingman.

“I play to win all the time.”

The incident he and Ravena figured in shadowed his performance of 10 points on 50 percent shooting off the bench — the second time he has scored in double figures this season. After Friday, Pessumal is averaging 8.25 points.

“We have to sustain the level of excellence that they (starters) have. Our job is — I wouldn’t say support, but — when we get in, we should bring the level higher so when they come back, the game is easier for them,” he said.

Pessumal was then asked if he and Ravena met each other after the buzzer sounded, as the two did not even shake hands after the contest. But, through a short yet strong response, the 24-year-old said that they did not.

“I wouldn’t say anything. I don’t know, after the game?,” he expressed.

“I’m a professional basketball player, I’m not here to make any friends.”

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Yeng Guiao denies using racial slur against Chris Ross

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During the post-game of the San Miguel Beermen’s victory over the NLEX Road Warriors, reigning Coach of the Year Leo Austria said that NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao called Chris Ross the “N” word that caused the commotion.

According to Chris, tinawagan siya ng nigger or ganiyan,” said Austria. “I don’t know but that’s what he explained to me because I confronted Chris Ross because he’s one of the most important players in my team.

“But that’s the thing he doesn’t want to hear so nagflare up yung bata so I cannot blame him.”

Guiao though denied that he blurted out racial slurs against San Miguel’s Chris Ross.

“Hindi. Hindi ko tinawag na N-word. Ewan ko kung may nakarinig. Pero hindi,” clarified the fiery tactician moments after their 98-109 defeat, their third straight after starting the 2018 Philippine Cup with two straight wins.

That tussle, according to Guiao, was just filled with trash talking against each other, as he felt the need to retaliate. In fact, Guiao was even caught by the TV camera saying “son of a bitch” towards the Filipino-American point guard.

“Daldal siya ng daldal eh. Eh sa akin naman kapag ganon, siguro respeto nalang. Lumayo ka nalang tutal mananalo naman na kayo,” he said. “I didn’t understand what he was saying, what he was talking about.

“Nakipagtrash-talking din ako sa kanya.”

Furthermore, the 58-year-old was also caught by the cameras flipping the bird — in one quick motion — also against Ross.

“Oo. Kasama na rin yun.

“Pero ano naman eh, it’s part of, siguro, psychological warfare. Malakas din siya mang-asar. Hindi lang naman sa amin. Everytime naman na mga ganoong skirmishes, he also knows what he’s capable of,” the seven-time champion coach furthered.

But more than this scuffle, it really has become a stressful time for Guiao and the Road Warriors. They have now went down to 2-3 in the team standings, and the mentor sees the great need to end this slump immediately.

“We have to arrest it very soon. Ang susunod na laro namin ay versus Rain or Shine sa Friday. So we need to go back to 50 percent win-loss level para at least may chance ka na maka-playoffs. That’s going to be a crucial game for us,” he stressed.

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Kiefer Ravena shocked with Von Pessumal’s shove: ‘I did not expect that at all’

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Kiefer Ravena and Von Pessumal have been teammates ever since they were in high school, winning three UAAP juniors crowns together. They won two championships together in the seniors level and even played together in Gilas. They were inseparable.

Friday evening however, they were playing for separate camps.

Ravena admitted that he never expected a shove to come from Pessumal during the NLEX Road Warriors’ clash with San Miguel Beermen.

In an off-ball situation, Pessumal charged at Ravena, sending the rookie down to the floor with 9:50 remaining in the final frame. He was then whistled for an unsportsmanlike foul, and Ravena sank one from the line.

“I did not expect that at all,” admitted Ravena after the match in which they lost, 98-109 — their third straight defeat after a 2-0 start. “But hopefully Von doesn’t take it personal.

“I’m just doing my job. They won the game.”

Ravena insisted that there wasn’t any physicality between him and Pessumal prior to that, but he thinks that his former Gilas teammate may have gotten irked by his staredown after blocking him on a fastbreak play early in the fourth.

“When that fastbreak happened — the same exact possession na I challenged him, I looked at him, and after that yun na yung nangyari,” said the 23-year-old guard. “But I never instigated something to provoke Von to do that.

“Probably nung tinignan ko siya.”

Moreover, the second overall pick of the 2017 PBA Rookie Draft felt that that incident “started all the commotions during the end game (laughs). Yun yung pinaka-una eh. And with that, the team got fired up and it worked for them.”

He may be right, for the game saw more skirmishes after that: from teammate Michael Miranda kicking Chris Ross to the groin, and with his head coach Yeng Guiao figuring in a heated verbal war also against Ross.

But then, Ravena made it clear that it was never a plan of his to put down somebody, especially someone like Pessumal who he sees as a brother for life.

“You know, Von and I, we go way back. Things like this hopefully don’t become too personal.

“I have no intention na ipapahiya yung tao or sasaktan mo yung tao. Wala namang ganun. Laro-laro lang,” said NLEX’s leading scorer.

It was somehow a night to remember for Ravena, but for all the wrong reasons. After Friday’s loss that sent their card to 2-3, the veteran internationalist now sees the need for him and the Road Warriors to push the panic button.

“‘Di na pwedeng sabihin palaging kailangan namin matuto eh. Pangatlong sunod na,” the second-generation cager expressed.

“Kailangan siguro naming umaksyon.”

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Downcast Chris Ross chooses to stay mum after heated altercation with Yeng Guiao

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Through wins or losses, Chris Ross has always accommodated the members of the press asking for interviews and fans requesting for photo ops every after game. But Friday evening, the nine-year pro was despondent.

Visibly agitated with the events that had transpired during the San Miguel Beermen’s tilt against the NLEX Road Warriors, Ross, with his hoodie covering his head, left the Cuneta Astrodome without saying a word.

The reigning Defensive Player of the Year had figured in physical play after physical play and verbal exchange after verbal exchange with the frustrated Road Warriors.

Ross and Alex Mallari were both slapped with technicals after a confrontation with 9:06 left. This was just the start of many things to come for the Filipino-American defensive specialist

After knocking down a triple and receiving a taunt from Ross, Michael Miranda was assessed a disqualifying foul for an apparent kick to the groin against Ross with 4:35 left.

The tip of the iceberg came with 1:46 left to play and the game all but settled.

Yeng Guiao and Ross figured in a heated word war that resulted in Ross’ second technical foul for the game. Referees and players from both sides had to separate the two to prevent things from escalating.

San Miguel coach Leo Austria alleged that the fiery NLEX mentor said the “N” word, while some said Guiao called Ross a “bitch”.

Ross finished the game with four points, eight rebounds, and four steals in 37 minutes of action.

For sure, penalties and suspensions will come out of this game.

And it was better for Ross to stay silent.

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