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Up until the end, Tantoy Ferrer defies the odds

When adversities hit, they hit hard. But what adversities did not know was that Tantoy Ferrer’s heart is bigger than any of them.

Ferrer, an all-out hustler player of University of Santo Tomas, tore her ACL and MCL in her left knee during the UAAP Season 84 women’s 3×3 basketball tournament in Calatagan, Batangas in June 2022.

She missed the Season 85 5-on-5 tournament as she was still recovering. However, she was able to successfully return to the 3×3 court in May 2023.

Ferrer defied expectations of nine to 12 months of recovery, returning to action in seven months which enabled her to participate in the 3×3 tournament.

There, she made her mark as she helped the Growling Tigresses end the National University Lady Bulldogs’ unbeaten reign in the league’s short history of the three-a-side game.UAAP85-3X3-WBB-REYNALYN-FERRER-7301 Up until the end, Tantoy Ferrer defies the odds Basketball News UAAP UST  - philippine sports news

UST ended a 24-game winning streak by National U in the most important match of the season, the one-off championship game.

In Season 86, Ferrer finally returned on the hardwood with her eyes set on breaking the Lady Bulldogs’ dynasty that stood at seven straight titles.

After a long season, it was UST and NU in the best-of-three Finals.

Adversities came again after the Growling Tigresses grabbed Game 1, 76-72. Ferrer had flu in Game 2, where the Lady Bulldogs equalized and sent the series to a winner-take-all, 72-70.

Still, she played through that illness and still provided 15 points and six rebounds in 24 minutes and 22 seconds of play.

With the series stretched to its limit, UST head coach Haydee Ong talked to Ferrer, whom she considered the team’s “heart and soul.”UAAP86-WBB-Finals-G3-Tantoy-Ferrer-Nikki-Villasin-5339-1 Up until the end, Tantoy Ferrer defies the odds Basketball News UAAP UST  - philippine sports news

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“Tantoy was the leader, she’s the heart and soul nung naghahabol kami. Sinabi ko yan kay Tantoy,” said Ong.

“During the second game, she was down, under the weather with flu. But she still played for us, sabi ko lang sa kanya ‘Toy, I need you sa Wednesday, you have to suit up. Hindi namin kaya manalo na wala ka.’”

Suit up and deliver, Ferrer did in what was another huge adversity that hit her and the Tigresses.

UST faced a huge 14-point deficit entering the final quarter of Game 3, 47-61, and by nine with 4:12 remaining.

Then Ferrer did what she does best, shine against adversities.

Ferrer, who was shaken in the very first play of the game after inadvertently getting hit in the head, rose to the occasion by going on a personal 9-2 run on two three-pointers and three free throws to pull UST within two before teammates Kent Pastrana and Nikki Villasin finished the job with back-to-back layups that boosted UST to the 71-69 win and its first championship in 17 years.

It also ended the seven-season reign of National U.UAAP86-WBB-Awarding-UST-5415-1 Up until the end, Tantoy Ferrer defies the odds Basketball News UAAP UST  - philippine sports news

“Alam kong matagal mo nang inaantay ito coach. Alam kong 2018 pa lang coach, nung pumasok kami nina Tacky, sabi ko, ‘Coach, hindi puwede kaming e-exit dito sa UST team na walang championship na ibibigay sa iyo. Sa wakas Coach, nabalik na natin yung korona sa España,” said the appreciative Ferrer to Ong after winning the crown.

Just like adversities though, when blessings come, blessings pour.

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The graduating forward took home the Finals MVP award for her heroic performances in the three-game series, where she averaged 15.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.3 steals.

In the decider, Ferrer poured in 19 points and 14 rebounds while being a plus-plus-23 in her 26 minutes and 50 seconds on the floor in the two-point victory.

With two championships and one Finals MVP since her return from an ACL injury, which is considered one of the worst injuries to get in the sport, Ferrer is on cloud nine.

UAAP86-WBB-Awarding-Champion-UST-6793 Up until the end, Tantoy Ferrer defies the odds Basketball News UAAP UST  - philippine sports news“Yun nga parang impossible nga eh, kasi ACL injury ako one year ago. Parang ito ako, lumaban sa championship, and may bonus pa nakuha ko yung Finals MVP,” said the Season 81 Rookie of the Year.

“Paulit-ulit sa akin sinasabi nila coach na, ‘Toy, kaya mo, kahit galing kang ACL.’ alam kong nakikita ko sina coach at teammates ko na ‘ate kaya mo, alam namin kaya mo makipagcompete pa’. Alam nila dahil nakikita nila yung araw araw kong pinagtatrabuhan, nagrerehab ako sa tabi tapos sila naglalaro, parang yun yung lalong nagpamotivate sa akin.

“Talagang ibubuhos ko lahat every game since Day 1 makabalik ako sa training, talagang all out ako 100 percent. Ito na yung result, ito na yung bonus para sa akin. Galing ACL at ito nga nakuha na namin, nabalik na yung korona sa España.”

This sounds like a fitting end to her collegiate career but Ferrer has one more mission before saying goodbye to UST, and this she promised to the school that molded her from a shy kid from Calapandayan, Zambales to being the biggest piece that holds the Growling Tigresses together.

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She will be back next semester to defend the 3×3 crown as her final hurrah for UST.

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