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Derige powers UE in UST upset

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With their Final Four hopes on the line, the University of the East Red Warriors found an unlikely hero to save their season.

Transferee Clark Derige, who played two years with the Team B of Far Eastern University, notched a career-high 26 points in just 27 minutes of action to lead the UE Red Warriors in an upset against the second-seeded University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers, 91-77, Wednesday afternoon at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

There was an early blunder to open the game during the tip-off. After Karim Abdul won the jumpball, the ball tipped to Paul Varilla, who made an error in shooting the ball to UST’s court. The basket was first credited to UE but, after a discussion by the officials, it was credited to Kevin Ferrer. Afterwards, there was little defense from both teams as they exchanged baskets. With the game tied at 13-all with 3:33 remaining, Varilla scored a three-pointer and Emil Palma scored on a fastbreak layup to give UE an early edge. A pull-up jumper by Jason Varilla closed the quarter with UE up 20-15.

The Growling Tigers got their first taste of a lead as forward Kent Lao converted two triples in a 10-2 run to open the second quarter. The Red Warriors, however, stayed hot from the field, as the backcourt tandem of Philip Manalang and Edson Batiller continued to pace the Red Warriors. Throughout the quarter, Ferrer struggled to find his shot with the UE defenders crowding the UST senior. Cameroonian student-athlete Karim Abdul scored UST’s last seven points, but this was answered by a Batiller triple and a breakaway layup to give UE a solitary point lead to enter the break, 39-38.

Chris Javier started off hot to open the third quarter as he scored UE’s first nine points to give his team a 47-43 lead midway through the quarter. The frustration continued for Ferrer as he was called for an unsportsmanlike foul at the 5:54 mark of the third. With rookie Jordan Sta. Ana driving past Ferrer, Ferrer was grabbed by a falling Sta. Ana but fell on the Red Warrior resulting to the unsportsmanlike call. After a three-point play by Abdul, the Growling Tigers could not score on a field goal in the final 5:19 of the quarter as the UE lead grew to a ten-point margin, 62-52.

The offense of UST struggled to start the fourth quarter. With Derrick Pumaren’s squad still holding a 70-62 lead with 5:39 left, the Growling Tigers pushed the pace in a huge 9-3 blast. Abdul opened the rally with two free throws; it was capped by a three by Ferrer that cut the lead to just two, 73-71, with 2:43 remaining. Derige hit back with a corner three. In the ensuing play, an inbound by Daquioag was quickly intercepted by Philip Manalang, who then found an open Derige for a layup. After a timeout, Abdul was able to find his way inside for a layup but the Red Warrior lead was back up to seven, 80-73, with 1:39 left. UST was not able to convert on any field goal while free throws by Derige, Abanto, and Manalang sealed the game for the now 4-7 UE Red Warriors, 91-77.

“We have to play with a sense of urgency because we still have a slim shot at the Final Four,” UE head coach Derrick Pumaren said after the game. “We practiced for two weeks for this game so we came out prepared.”

Derige, who had a career high of 26 points on 10/18 shooting, was a big factor for UE. “Clark was making his shots but he needs to play consistent basketball,” Pumaren remarked about the Quirino-province native. “He gave us the lift we needed.”

Looking forward, Pumaren stated that the team cannot be content with just four wins. “We’ll try to stay alive. We can’t be just happy with this team and we can’t be complacent.”

Besides Derige, three other Red Warriors scored in double-digits: Chris Javier added 13 points while Paul Varilla notched a double-double with 10 points and 11 boards. Nick Abanto added ten markers as well.

For the Growling Tigers, Karim Abdul was unstoppable with 25 points, on 9/12 shooting, and grabbed 15 boards. Ed Daquioag was just 4/17 from the field for 11 poinst while Kevin Ferrer only attempted nine shots, making three, in scoring ten points.

As a team, the Red Warriors shot an excellent 46.67% from the field compared to just 39% for UST. Moreover, UE forced UST to 24 turnovers that led to 22 turnover points.

The UE Red Warriors (4-7) look to build momentum from this game as they face the Adamson University Soaring Falcons on Saturday, November 7 at 2:00pm while the UST Growling Tigers (9-3) look to bounce back against the FEU Tamaraws on the same day at 4:00pm.

The Scores:
UE (91) – Derige 26, Javier 13, Abanto 10, Varilla P 10, Batiller 9, Charcos 8, Manalang 6, Palma 4, Gagate 2, Varilla J 2, Sta. Ana 1.
UST (77) – Abdul 25, Daquioag 11, Ferrer 10, Vigil 9, Lee 9, Lao 6, Sheriff 4, Bonleon 2, Subido 1, Garrido 0.
Quarterscores: 20-15, 39-38, 62-52, 91-77.

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