University of Santo Tomas upended University of the East, 85-82, to finish fourth in the UAAP Season 85 high school boys basketball tournament Sunday at the Filoil EcoOil Centre.
Charles Esteban, the Grade 10 son of the school’s women’s volleyball assistant coach Aying, dropped 19 of his 29 points in the second half as the Tiger Cubs ended a three-game slide.
The Junior Warriors tried to force overtime but Andrei de Leon missed a long triple in the dying seconds.
Later, De La Salle-Zobel posted its first winning streak of the season with a 76-61 win over UP Integrated School.
Junjun Melecio, the brother of former star Junior Archer Aljun, came through with 24 points, six assists, and five rebounds while Kieffer Alas and Rhyle Melencio each scored 14 points.
UST coach Jinino Manansala stressed the importance of the game to stay within the Final Four range entering the second round.
“Do or die kasi ito dahil sa ranking. Sure na kami sa No. 4. Credit sa mga UST boys, ibinigay nila ang best nila,” said Manansala, as the Tiger Cubs bucked the absence of injured guard James Jumao-as.
“Iba pa rin na nandiyan si James kapag nasa loob. Pero siyempre, may magse-step-up tulad ni Charles (Esteban), nagulat ako he scored 29 points. Grabe, kakaiba ang ipinakita nito,” he added.
De La Salle mentor Boris Aldeguer is simply glad to end the first round on a high note, as the Junior Archers took care of business by beating the slumping Junior Fighting Maroons and tying the Tiger Cubs at 3-4.
“Well, that’s our goal, beat the teams that we can beat. And we were able to do,” said Aldeguer. “There’s gonna be one slot in the Final Four that we will be fighting for. This is a good win for us if we want to get that slot. Very important game and hopefully, we get to add more wins from our current standing.”
Melecio credited his teammates for De La Salle-Zobel’s crucial win.
“This victory was a group win. All of us helped the team and we just aimed to win one game at a time. Every time, I just keep reminding my teammates to play our game,” said Melecio.
Mark Llemit chipped in 22 points, six rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks for the Tiger Cubs, who ended a three-game slide.
The Fighting Maroons and the Junior Warriors ended up at 1-6 in seventh and eighth places.
UST (85) — Esteban 29, Llemit 22, Pangilinan 12, Zanoria 9, Manding 5, Ayon 2, Pantaleon 2, Bucsit 2, Tesocan 2, Buenaflor 0, Naron 0, Miaco 0.
UE (82) — Roldan 16, Gragasin 15, Caldit 12, Duque 11, De Leon 9, Flores 8, F. Reyes 5, Gatchalian 2, Arcega 2, Bagro 1, Morales 1, Pangilinan 0.
Quarterscores: 20-24, 38-45, 63-65, 85-82
DLSZ (76) — Melecio 24, Alas 14, Melencio 14, Dimaano 9, Pabellano 6, San Agustin 5, Chang 2, Sta. Maria 2, Arejola 0, Espina 0, Legaspi 0, Favis 0, Cruz 0, Dimalanta 0, John 0.
UPIS (61) — Valdeavilla 21, Demisana 15, Melicor 11, Napalang 7, Gomez de Liaño 6, Villaverde 1, Raymundo 0, Pascual 0, Mendoza 0, Uvero 0, Rosete 0, Florentino 0.
Quarterscores: 14-14, 37-31, 55-49, 76-61