The University of Santo Tomas pulled off a tight 87-74 overtime thriller over the National University Bulldogs to bounce back in the UAAP Season 82 men’s basketball tournament Sunday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
Rhenz Abando found the right time to wake up, scoring seven points in the final 1:32 of regulation. He then buried two pressure-packed triples in the extra frame to complete the Growling Tigers’ comeback.
The high-flying forward finished with 21 points, six rebounds, and two assists.
UST fought back from a five-point hole, 68-63, with 42.3 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Defense did it for the Growling Tigers, as they forced two crucial turnovers leading to Zach Huang’s split from the line to knot the score at 68.
Enzo Joson atoned for his miscues, scoring the go-ahead lay-up with 6.5 seconds left. Soulemane Chabi Yo then tied the game anew at 70 with a tough lay-in with 2.1 ticks remaining. Dave Ildefonso’s Hail Mary could not find its mark as the game went to overtime.
“Buti bumuhos pa rin yung mga bata, especially sa last six seconds. While our opponents were celebrating, we’re able to convert and force it to overtime,” said coach Aldin Ayo.
Riding that wave of momentum, UST pulled away in the extension. Meanwhile, NU unraveled, leading to Ildefonso fouling out with 2:52 left and Abando’s second trey putting his side up, 81-73 with 2:37 remaining.
“Sinwerte kami sa dulo,” said Ayo. “We did not play our game sa first three and a half quarters, pero buti nag-pick up kami sa last five minutes ng fourth quarter.”
Chabi Yo led the Growling Tigers with 23 points, 20 rebounds, and four assists, while Sherwin Concepcion got 13 points and six rebounds.
UST rose to 3-1 in the standings despite committing 25 turnovers in the affair.
It was another heartbreaker for the Bulldogs, who remain at the bottom of the barrel at 0-3.
Ildefonso led NU with 16 points and six rebounds, while John Lloyd Clemente had 12 points and seven boards.
UST will look to keep their streak going against the Adamson Soaring Falcons on Wednesday, September 18, 12:30pm. Meanwhile, NU will try to bounce back earlier that day against the UP Fighting Maroons. Both games are at the MOA Arena.
UST 87 — Chabi Yo 23, Abando 21, Concepcion 13, Nonoy 9, Subido 7, Paraiso 6, Huang 5, Cansino 3, Ando 0, Bataller 0, Cuajao 0.
NU 74 — D. Ildefonso 16, Clemente 11, Joson 10, S. Ildefonso 9, Gaye 6, Oczon 5, Galinato 3, Mangayao 2, Gallego 0, Mosqueda 0, Rangel 0.
Quarterscores: 21-16, 30-31, 47-52, 70-70, 87-74.