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Daquioag’s career-high steers league-leading UST past UE

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After taking a step back to co-team captain Kevin Ferrer in their last games, Ed Daquioag saved the best for last as he notched his career-high in their final game of the first round. Moreover, the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers defeated the University of the East Red Warriors, 83-76 to cap their impressive first round in the UAAP Season 78 Men’s Basketball tournament. 

Despite taking the early lead at 5-2 with a Paul Varilla triple, UE had a horrible shooting display and was cold from the perimeter against UST’s defense. On the other hand, Ed Daquioag and Kevin Ferrer kept piercing through the Warriors for five combined layups in the first period and build an early 8-0 counter for the Tigers.

With their full court pressure still in effect, UE was able to slice the lead momentarily with Chris Javier making inside baskets and trim the deficit down to two points at 14-12. However, in a blink of an eye, UST erected a 12-0 run in the last 3:21 of the period including triples from Louie Vigil and Kevin Ferrer. The stretch was capped with Daquioag being fouled from an attempt from beyond halfcourt by a poor UE foul that led to an early 14 point lead after one quarter.

The game slowed down with the number of fouls committed by both teams. Just like the opening quarter, UE entered the penalty situation early in the 5:54 mark of the second frame. Fortunately for the Red Warriors, scoring started to take place as they erased a 16 point lead but had a hard time barging it into single digits.

As starters slowly fielded in anew for the Tigers, UST romped points courtesy of a fallaway triple by Daquioag and a four point play off the catch by Ferrer to make it a 39-26 game. UE kept afloat in the game with the help of their offensive rebounding and second chance points with 14 second chance points at the break but the Espana-based crew retained their double digit lead after two cantos.

Two quick layups by Varilla and Charcos swiftly melted the lead down to single digits and let the UE crowd get into the game. As the Red Warriors made a frantic rally of their own, Varilla nailed a three-ball to cement a 13-7 start to the second half as the Tigers struggled with their shot selection.

However, Daquioag came to the rescue scoring five points in the next plays including two side step layups in transition. In the last four 2 1/2 minutes of the third, UE once again built a furious rally, now a 9-1 spurt with their frenetic defense on point. Daquioag would then break the rally with a layup in the dying seconds to make it a 60-56 game heading into the final period.

UE had a last rally in them in the fourth period, making the game interesting as they pull through within two points, 73-71 with a total team effort making the furious run. However, too much Daquioag down the stretch proved too much for the young UE squad as he overshadowed Varilla’s brilliant shooting in the fourth quarter. In addition, a poor foul by the Red Warriors to the shooting Louis Vigil hurt their chances in the comeback as the guard made it a three-possession game, making it hard for UE to clinch their comeback.

“Hindi na ko nagtataka sa pinapakita niya,” Coach Bong dela Cruz said of his senior Ed Daquioag. “Nung summer pa lang sa Filoil at last year pa nakikita ko na siya.” He added that, “natural na sa kanya yun para sa kin.”

For Daquioag, he is playing inspired ball and even thanking the people around him. “Laking pasasalamat ko sa aking pamilya, girlfriend, at mga kaibigan. Sila ang nagbibigay ng lakas sa akin,” the soft-spoken Ilocos del Norte-native said.

Looking forward to the next round, the sophomore head coach said that they will prepare for every game just like in the first round. “One game at a time,” he closed.

The Growling Tigers were led by Daquioag’s career-high of 34 points. He added four boards and six dimes and shot at a clip of 61%, 14/23. Smart Elite ambassador Kevin Ferrer added 14 points and three assists.

For the skidding Warriors, Paul Varilla was outstanding as he scored 25 points and grabbed eight boards. Chris Javier meanwhile added 12 markers and five rebounds.

As a team, the Espana cagers shot 49% from the field compared to just the 37% shooting clip of their opponents. The free throws attempted by UST also made a difference as UST shot 25/40 from the field compared to just 13/22 by UE.

With the win, the UST Growling Tigers will end the first round on top with a 6-1 slate. UE, however, extend their losing streak to four games to end the first round with a 2-5 record.

The Scores:
UST (83) – Daquioag 34, Ferrer 14, Vigil 14, Abdul 9, Sheriff 5, Lee 5, Lao 2, Abdurassad 0, Bonleon 0, Caunan 0, Faundo 0, Garrido 0, Subido 0.
UE (76) – Varilla 25, Javier 12, De Leon 8, Palma 8, Batiller 5, Charcos 5, Sta. Ana 4, Abanto 3, Derige 2, Gagate 2, Manalang 2, Gonzales 0, Penuela 0, Yu 0.
Quarterscores: 26-12, 44-33, 60-56, 83-76

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