“We have 10 new faces in the team. We are here to learn the system.” – Coach Derek Pumaren
In the opening game of the 9th Filoil Premiere Cup, the UE Red Warriors escaped the UST Growling Tigers 60-59 Saturday at the Filoil Arena in San Juan City.
The Growling Tigers were without Karim Abdul (injury), Kevin Ferrer (National Team duties), and Renzo Subido (injury) in this game. On the other hand, the UE Red Warriors fielded 10 new players in their line-up.
The opening quarter of the game turned into an offensive showcase for both teams. The Red Warriors held an early 6-3 lead early on, but lost the lead with back-to-back baskets by Kent Lao. Edson Batiller retook the lead with a corner three. Debuting UE foreign-student athlete Bertrand Awana held the paint for the Red Warriors with two blocks in the quarter. Both teams continued to exchange baskets until the end of the quarter with UE up 17-14 with Emil Palma banking in a shot to put his team up three points.
UE went on an early 8-1 run at the start of the second quarter sparked by Paul Varilla and RR de Leon to extend the UE lead to 11 points. At the 5:43 mark in the quarter, the Red Warriors were already in the penalty with Dan Alberto and Emil Palma both having three fouls. UST took advantage of this and rallied back with a 10-0 run of their own to cut the deficit to four. A costly foul by Alberto on rookie Marvin Lee while shooting a three gave UST a 30-27 lead. The quarter ended with UST on top 32-29 with Bonleon scoring 11 points in the half.
“I got mad in the second quarter because when we got a 10-point lead we were not following the system both defensively and offensively,” Coach Pumaren told us after the game.
In the third quarter, UST continued to employ a full court trap that baffled the UE guards. Ed Daquioag continued to pour on the points scoring four straight points. In the middle of the third stanza, it was the Growling Tigers who were in the penalty. Chris Javier took advantage of it in scoring six points in the quarter, four coming from the free throw line to keep the game close. Right before the end of the quarter, with UE down by just a solitary point, Dan Alberto was penalized with his fourth foul with 28.7 seconds remaining. UE regained the lead courtesy of free throws by Ralph Penuela to end the quarter, 48-47.
In the final quarter, Bonleon and Daquioag scored seven straight points for the Growling Tigers to put UST up 54-48. Paul Varilla quelled the bleeding with a three point shot. After exchanging baskets, UE was just down three with 3:45 remaining. A clutch three by Philip Manalang tied the game. UST big man Christian Kakonda fouled out a few seconds later. A jumpshot by Jon Sheriff cut the deficit by one with a minute remaining. Mario Bonleon stole the ball seconds after and was about to connect with a wide open lay up. UE big man Bertrand Awana swatted his third block of the game with a chase down of Bonleon. UE gained the lead with a free throw from Awana and two free throws by Joshua Gonzales.With 13 seconds remaining, UST had the last chance to try to win the game. Ed Daquioag tried to get a shot off but to no avail.
Paul Varilla led UE with a double-double, 10 points and 10 rebounds. Bertrand Awana also collected 10 rebounds for the Red Warriors. On the other end, Mario Bonleon top scored for UST with 17 points (5/16 FG, 6/10 FT).
UE (60) – Varilla 10, Gonzales 9, Javier 8, Awana 7, Manalang 5, Abanto 4, Alberto 4, Penuela 4, Batiller 4, De Leon 2, Palma 2, Charcos 2, Larupay 0, Cruz 0
UST (59) – Bonleon 17, Daquioag 12, Sheriff 8, Lao 7, Lee 4, Huang 3, Decapia 3, Caunan 3, Magno 2, Kakonda 0, Furaque 0
Quarters: 17-14, 29-32, 48-47, 60-59
*Photo by Vyn Radovan