UNIVERSITY of Santo Tomas gained a much-needed cushion in the race for the last Final Four spot in the UAAP Season 85 Boys’ Basketball Tournament, picking up a crucial 94-78 victory to send Ateneo de Manila University to the brink of elimination, Wednesday at the Filoil Ecooil Centre.
It was a much-needed win for the fourth-running Tiger Cubs as they gained a two-game lead over the Blue Eagles (4-8) and a 2.5-game cushion over De La Salle Zobel (4-7) with their 6-6 slate. The Junior Archers are facing Adamson University as of publishing.
UST can join Adamson, Nazareth School-National University, and Far Eastern University-Diliman to the next round if it wins one of its final two assignments.
“Crucial tong game na ‘to for both teams pero hindi ko sila pinressure. Sabi ko lang, ‘Laruin natin yung laro natin’,” said Tiger Cubs head coach Jinino Manansala.
The Tiger Cubs, who were averaging 5.45 threes per game prior to the contest, found their touch from deep at the most apt of times, firing five triples in a 29-point second quarter that turned an 18-24 deficit into a 47-36 lead.
JP Pangilinan, a Grade 12 student who previously went to Letran High, drained three of his six treys during the UST surge. He ended up with a career-high 26 points.
“Hindi ko ine-expect na ganito lalaruin ko ngayon kaya nagpapasalamat ako sa teammates ko dahil binigay nila yung tiwala nila sa akin,” said Pangilinan.
UST did not let up from there, firing on all cylinders as the lead grew to as high as 20 points, 69-49, during the tailed of the third canto.
“Sabi nga stop [Lebron] Nieto at [Kristian] Porter pero hindi pa rin,” said Manansala as Porter still ended up with 25 points and 10 rebounds while Nieto tallied 19 points, nine assists, and six rebounds but still committed 10 turnovers.
“Kaya kami lumamang dito kasi kumunekta na rin kami sa three-points. Yan yung deperensya diyan. Tapos maganda din yung ikot namin sa depensa, nakakaagaw din kami,” he continued.
All in all, UST ended up with 12 treys while forcing Ateneo to commit 24 turnovers that led to a whopping 32 points off of them.
James Jumao-as supported Pangilinan with 21 points while Mark Llemit produced 12 points, seven steals, seven assists, and five rebounds.
But sharing the spotlight with the Tiger Cubs was Nazareth School of National University guard Reinhard Jumamoy.
Jumamoy recorded his fourth triple-double of the season, helping the defending champion keep their top two hopes alive and steering his side to a 90-82 win over University of the East.
Jumamoy tallied 13 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists to become set the UAAP record for most triple-doubles in a season since 2003 — the year when the league started to digitize its stats.
“Hindi ko naman iniisip yung triple-double kung hindi paano makakatulong sa team. Ang isip lang namin na kahit anong record namin, isipin lang namin zero-zero pa record namin dahil hindi na namin nakukuha yung goal namin,” said Jumamoy.
The game itself though disappointed Bullpups head coach Kevin De Castro as the boys did not bring their A-game against their also-ran opponents.
“Start of the game, ni-remind ko yung guys na kalaban natin today, nothing to lose kaya respetuhin natin sila pero yun bad start kami,” quipped the young head coach as NSNU fell behind 28-22 to end the first 10 minutes of the game.
“Luckily, nagrespond sila nung second and third quarters pero nag-relax na naman nung fourth. Kaya i-reremind ko yung boys na bawal kami mag-relax sa last two games namin,” he continued as the 76-52 lead they built in the third quarter ended up with just an eight-point win.
The Bullpups went up to 10-2 to remain on pace with league-leading Adamson (10-1) and gain a half-game lead over FEU-D (9-2). The latter two teams are still playing as of press time.
Pervi Timbang also got 13 points for NSNU while RJ Colonia and Elijah Yusi chipped in 11 points apiece.
Vhon Rholdan led the 2-10 Junior Warriors with 18 points and nine rebounds while Andrei De Leon added 16 markers.
UST 94 – Pangilinan 26, Jumao-as 21, Llemit 12, Bucsit 9, Zanoria 9, Esteban 7, Tesocan 3, Ayon 2, Manding 2, Buenaflor 2, Suico 1, Chan 0.
Ateneo 78 – Porter 25, Nieto 19, Adevoso 17, Salandanan 7, Ebdane 5, De Guzman 2, Domangcas 2, Fidel 1, Urbina 0, Aguirre 0, Arada 0, Santiago 0, Delos Santos 0.
Quarterscores: 18-24, 47-36, 69-55, 94-78.
NSNU 90 – Jumamoy 13, Timbang 13, Colonia 11, Yusi 11, Tagotongan 9, Usop 8, Perciano 7, Alfanta 7, Solomon 5, Demetria 4, Barraca 2, Herrera 0, Napa 0, Mendoza 0, Palanca 0.
UE 82 – Roldan 18, De Leon 16, Flores 13, Duque 9, Arcega 4, Morales 3, Malonzo 3, Pangilinan 3, Gragasin 3, Reyes V. 2, Caldit 2, Ramos 2, Bagro 2, Gatchalian 2, Reyes F. 0, Isip 0.
Quarterscores: 22-28, 48-40, 76-52, 90-82.