The University of San Carlos Warriors knocked off another UAAP team in the 2015 National Collegiate Championship tournament.
After a thrilling win against the National University Bulldogs, the USC Warriors ended the 2015 collegiate basketball campaign of the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers, 82-72, early Tuesday evening at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan City.
UST started like a house on fire to open the game. Playing in his last game for the Espana cagers, Kevin Ferrer knocked down three triples in the first quarter to give UST the early lead. After a USC timeout, the Warriors went on to a 7-0 tear to end the quarter tied at 18-all.
The Warriors carried their momentum into the second quarter and led by as much as six, 27-21, with a split from the free-throw line from William McAloney. UST then picked up the scoring and eventually wrested the lead with a Louie Vigil layup off a pass from Ferrer, 31-30. The Growling Tigers held on to the advantage at halftime, 34-33.
The complexion of the game changed in the third quarter as the Warriors turned to their transition offense to grab the lead once more. Just a minute after the start of the half, McAloney scored on an and-one opportunity to put USC in the lead, 38-34. Kent Lao then unleashed five straight points to tie the game at 42. Lao again clinched the lead for UST for the last time with a trey, 45-43.
USC slowly built their lead at the start of the fourth quarter. Cameroonian Shooster Olago scored off a second-chance oppontunity to push the lead, 62-53, at the 7:57 mark of the canto. The Tigers then brought the deficit down to five, 57-62, as Louie Vigil converted on his two charities less than four minutes left in the game.
Olago then scored seven unanswered points to give Sanciangko Street-based squad the biggest lead of the game, 78-63, with 2:10 left in the game clock. Lao and Ferrer bounced back from their previous misses from the arc to mount a late UST comeback and cut the deficit at 68-78. Nonetheless, clutch free throws from Olago and Chris Maconocido sealed the win for the Warriors.
“Malaking bagay ito sa team at sa akin,” interim USC head coach Bong Abad said after the game. “Sabi ko nga sa mga players, ito yung opportunity na para maipakita ang talent niyo dito sa Maynila.”
Moreover, Abad disclosed that this was their only opportunity to test their team against Manila’s top teams. “Dito lang namin makakalaban ang mga team sa UAAP. At the same time, malaking bagay ito para sa amin,” he added. “Sabi nga ng team manager namin, sulit na sulit na ang biyahe namin dito.”
The UST Growling Tigers were a horrid 33% from the field and 44% from the charity stripe. According to UST head coach Bong dela Cruz, this was due to the lack of practice sessions the team had the past few weeks. “Yung mga bata kasi nagfifinals ngayon,” he disclosed. “Hindi pa kami nakaka-practice since natapos ang UAAP.” He also added that his seniors Ed Daquioag, Kevin Ferrer, and Jon Sheriff jsut arrived from a three-day seniors’ retreat.
Cameroonian student-athlete Shooster Olaga was the high point man in the game with 19 points and 15 boards. He was 6/13 from the field and 7/9 from the charity stripe. William McAloney added 11 points. Tongan student-athlete Espoir Toyambi also had a double-double with ten points and 11 boards.
Playing in their last game for the Growling Tigers, Ed Daquioag had 17 markers on 50% shooting. Ferrer added 16 points but was just 6/18 from the field and a dismal 0/7 from the foul line.
With the win, the USC Warriors will face the FEU Tamaraws in the NCC semifinals tomorrow, December 16 at 4:00pm. This will be a match-up between the CESAFI and UAAP Champions.
USC (82) – Olago 19, McAloney 11, Pepito 10, Toyambi 10, Magat 7, Maconocido 7, Tagapan 6, Ortega 6, Laguyo 4, Rabat 2, Lim 0, Ecarma 0.
UST (72) – Daquioag 17, Ferrer 16, Lao 16, Lee 9, Vigil 6, Garrido 6, Arana 2, Bonleon 0, Sheriff 0, Faundo 0, Huang 0, Kakonda 0, Caunan 0, Abrasad 0.
Quarterscores: 18-18, 33-34, 57-51, 82-72
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