Figuring in their third straight do-or-die game, Grace Irebu once again towed the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigresses. This time, the soon-to-be-named MVP and UST escaped the Adamson University Lady Falcons, 78-69, Sunday afternoon at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
“I’m speechless. Thank you kay Lord for this opportunity who gave us a chance to play another day. [Sai] Larosa, Grace, and Tin [Capilit[ played their hearts out. We survived three knockout games,” shared third-year UST head coach Haydee Ong.
Behind Irebu, who had 28 points, 20 rebounds, and three blocks, the Growling Tigresses surged in the second stanza. UST led by as much as 21 points, 46-25, midway through the third canto.
“She showed that she is the MVP,” added Ong.
“I’m so happy to be with the Final Four with the team,” beamed the Congolese student-cager.
Mar Prado, Kristeena Camacho, and Jamie Alcoy though rallied Adamson back to close out the third stanza.
But in the final frame, the patience of the Growling Tigresses were tested.
Seconds into the last 10 minutes of the game, back-up guard Ruby Portillo was called for a disqualifying foul — a judgment call that was questionable by all accounts. Replays showed that Prado was just trying to knock the ball away out of Mariz Cacho’s hands.
Then midway through the quarter and UST clinging to a three-point lead, Cla Aujero was slapped with an unsportsmanlike foul after just challenging Camacho’s lay-up.
“We want to appeal on Portillo’s disqualifying foul. She’s not known as a dirty player. She was going for the ball. Also, si Aujero. We will appeal this because we need them for the FEU game,” lamented Ong.
It lit a fire under the Growling Tigresses as Larosa and Irebu took over, regaining UST’s double-digit cushion to buck the Lady Falcons.
Larosa had 17 points, eight rebounds, three assists, and two steals. Capilit added 13 points while Aujero scattered seven assists, six rebounds, and five points.
“The last time we played against La Salle we were down. We were able to catch up. Si Cla defended Prado well. Also our perimeter players defended [Jamie] Alcoy well,” said Ong.
UST will go up the stepladder once again, this time taking on the twice-to-beat armed FEU Lady Tamaraws on Wednesday, November 28 at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
Prado had her second 30-point game this season, finishing with 34 points, 10 rebounds, and a season-high seven steals.
Though eliminated, the Lady Falcons had a spectacular turnaround under first-year head coach Ewon Arayi. After finishing fifth last year with a 6-8 recorded, Adamson almost made the podium.
UST 78 –– Irebu 28, Larosa 17, Capilit 13, Rivera 6, Aujero 5, Portillo 5, Ferrer 4, Tacatac 0, Magat 0, Sangalang 0, Gonzales 0.
ADU 69 — Prado 34, Alcoy 9, Camacho 9, Cacho 6, Araja 5, Tandaan 3, Bilbao 2, Aciro 1, Cabug 0, Osano 0.
Quarterscores: 22-14, 43-25, 60-47, 78-69.