Through deplorable shooting performances from the entire team, the UST Tigers squeezed past the still winless AdU Falcons, 50-49, thanks to a timely free throw from Kent Lao at the MoA Arena.
With the scored tied at 49, the Thomasians had a chance to take the lead with 29 seconds remaining but their ensuing play resulted in an Abdul missed jumpshot which Jansen Rios hauled in with 10 seconds to go. Rios, who was under heavy pressure from a UST double team, failed to call timeout and turned the ball over, setting up Lao’s late game heroics.
Lao, who had just missed two potential go-ahead free throws with 30 seconds remaining, was fouled made only the second of his two charities leaving Adamson with 1.1 seconds to set-up a winning play which resulted to a missed alley-oop attempt for Jansen Rios.
Both teams implored carefully planned defenses and forced each other to plod heavily on offense. The Falcons, using steady 2-3 zone defense throughout the game, and The Tigers, toggling between a steady man-to-man and a switch-heavy zone defense, both shot just 28 percent from the field and incurred 20 turnovers.
Lao finished the game with just four points on one for three shooting from the field and on a two for six performance from the charity stripe. Louie Vigil led all scorers with 11 points on an efficient four for six shooting clip. Karim Abdul, who was hounded by the Falcon defense all-game, had just eight points but pulled down nine rebounds and swatted away four shots.
UST’s star forward duo both struggled from the field. Former Junior’s MVP, Kevin Ferrer notched 10 points but made just three of his 13 attempts from the field including just one of his six heaves from beyond the arc. Former San Beda Red Cub, Aljon Mariano continued his struggle to start off the season, turning in another subpar performance, scoring just seven points on two for nine shooting and was benched for most of the game.
Adamson, playing without Celodonio Trollano after he was suspended for punching a player in their game against UE, got a breakout performance from rookie Jessie Pedrosa who scored eight of his 10 points in the first half. Jansen Rios and Ivan Villanueva tallied six and five points respectively on identical two for 12 shooting clips.
AdU falls to 0-3, tied with UP at the bottom of the standings and will face the NU Bulldogs next. UST improves to 2-1 and has UP on deck.