University of Sto. Tomas lived to fight another day, crawling back from a 0-2 deficit to stun National University, 21-25, 19-25, 25-22, 25-23, 15-12, and send the V-League Men’s Collegiate Challenge Finals series to a Game Three, Wednesday at the Paco Arena.
Rookies Josh Ybañez and Gboy De Vega joined hands in extending the Tiger Spikers’ tournament life. The former unloaded 25 points on top of 19 excellent digs and eight excellent receptions while the latter dropped 24 points laced with 15 receptions to halt the Bulldogs’ winning streak at eight games.
Another first year in Dux Yambao also played a crucial role in the win, submitting 20 excellent sets on top of eight points built on five attacks, two kill blocks, and an ace.
“I told them to take every chance na nandoon sila sa court as a learning experience. Matuto kayo, you can identify what is effective and ituloy niyo. Kung ano yung pagkukulang niyo, i-improve niyo,” said UST head coach Odjie Mamon when asked about what he told his players after NU took a quick 2-0 lead.
‘Yun lang more on learning lang yung sinabi ko sa kanila nung down kami. Matuto, matuto, matuto,” he added.
Carrying their momentum from the fourth set, the Tiger Spikers raced to a 9-5 advantage that turned into a 12-7 lead after Ybañez nailed a kill.
The Bulldogs answered back with a four-to-nothing blast to trim the lead to just one but De Vega scored from the back while Ybañez converted an ace to push UST at match point, 14-13.
Michael Buddin scored off a ball touch to keep the Bulldogs alive but was rejected by Edlyn Paul Colinares in the following play which ended the game.
Buddin’s 27-point outing went down the drain as NU failed to close out the game despite taking an early 2-0 advantage over the Tiger Spikers.
Nico Almendras added 18 points, 21 receptions, and six digs in the loss while Kennry Malinis had 11.
Game Three of the finals will be on December 2, Friday.