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Ferrer sizzles as UST clinches Final Four in win over UP

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The Most Valuable Player Race is getting more interesting.

After Kiefer Ravena notched 32 points in Ateneo’s win over the NU Bulldogs earlier, Kevin Ferrer tallied a huge double-double to lift the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers to the Final Four in an 83-76 win over the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons, early Sunday evening at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

After a tight first half that saw Jett Manuel score 11 first half points and UST just leading by three to enter the second half, Kevin Ferrer smoked the Fighting Maroons defense. Ferrer converted on two triples and drove through the lanes easy layups to extend the UST lead. Louie Vigil complemented the effort in scoring six points to extend the UST lead to ten, 61-51, to end the quarter.

In the final frame, Ferrer, who was attempting a three-pointer, was fouled by Amar. The UST swingman converted on two to give UST the biggest lead of the game. The UST lead would go down to as low as three, 69-66, with 3:43 to go. During that 10-3 rally, Jett Manuel converted on highlight jumpers, while Gelo Vito and Diego Dario converted on a long jumper and layup, respectively.

After a timeout by Bong Dela Cruz to stop the UP wave, Dela Cruz brought in a lineup that had Ferrer playing center together with Vigil, Kent Lao, Ed Daquioag, and Marvin Lee. The lineup confounded the UP defense as Ferrer’s speed led to drives that left his defenders. Moreover, the small ball lineup forced the Fighting Maroons to turnovers and to well-contested shots. A baseline drive by Vigil with 1:06 to go and free throws by Ferrer sealed the game and a Final Four clinching spot for UST, 83-76.

UST head coach, Bong Dela Cruz lauded Ferrer’s spectacular performance. “Kailangan bumawi ni Kevin from last time. Pinakita niya talaga kanina ‘yung lakas niya as a player. Alam naman niya kung ano kailangan ng team sa kanya.”

“Sa basketball kasi di ka lang nasa taas, bababa ka rin. So, tinignan ko lang ‘yung mga mali ko saka pinalakas ko pa ‘yung katawan ko. Second round na kasi, mas hinahayaan na ng mga referee ‘yung mga physical plays,’ said Ferrer adding that he isn’t content with just making the Final Four. The Smart Elite ambassador still has clinching one of the top two seeds for a twice-to-beat advantage in his sights.

Smart Elite ambassador Kevin Ferrer had 29 huge points on 7/19 shooting. He was also able to grab 14 boards, his season-high. Three other Tigers scored in double-figures with Louie Vigil scoring 16, Daquioag with 15, and Abdul with ten.

For the Fighting Maroons, Jett Manuel had an excellent outing in scoring 21 points and grabbing eight boards. He was 9/18 from the field but was just 1/6 from downtown. Senior Agustini Amar added 12 markers.

As a team, the Growling Tigers shot 39.68% from the field compared to just 36.99% from UP. The Espana cagers though converted on five more triples and six more free throws compared to their opponents.

The UST Growling Tigers (9-2) will next face the UE Red Warriors on Wednesday, November 4 at 2:00pm while the UP Fighting Maroons (3-7) face the Ateneo Blue Eagles on the same day at 4:00pm. Games will be played at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Scores:
UST (83) – Ferrer 29, Vigil 16, Daquioag 15, Abdul 10, Lao 7, Subido 3, Lee 3, Bonleon 0, Sheriff 0.
UP (76) – Manuel 21, Amar 12, Dario 11, Desiderio 10, Asilum 5, Jaboneta 5, Moralde 4, Vito 4, Gallarza 2, Kone 2, Harris 0, Juruena 0, Longa 0.
Quarterscores: 15-11, 38-35, 61-51, 83-76.

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