UNIVERSITY of Santo Tomas grabbed its first finals appearance in six years after handing Ateneo its second straight loss in the UAAP Season 79 basketball tournament, 9-4, on Sunday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
The Golden Sox improved their record to 7-2 to clinch a finals seat where they will face Ateneo in the best-of-three series.
Kirk Daquis led the Golden Sox in the fourth inning when his team scored five runs in the fourth, before UST added three in the sixth.
Dino Altomonte tried to spark an Ateneo comeback in the eighth inning when he hit a two-run home run to cut UST's lead to 8-4.
But UST’s Noriel Valencia scored another run off an Ateneo error in the bottom of the eighth inning for a five-run lead.
“Siguro nadagdagan namin yung pagsisikap sa ensayo at dinagdagan namin yung aming prayers, yun yung dahilan,” UST mentor Jeffrey Santiago said.
“Buo yung team, yun talaga ang sikreto. Kailangan buo ang team,” he added.
UST and Ateneo begin its title series on March 21, but the Golden Sox will resume their game against Adamson on Wednesday that was suspended with the score tied at 4-4 in the 11th due to darkness.
“Hindi pa din kami magrerelax, tutal tinalo na namin ngayon tuloy na sana. ‘Yung dalawang game na yan, yung best of three gusto namin makuha,” said Santiago, referring to the finals series against Ateneo.
The Falcons look to carry their winning momentum against the Sox after downing the National University Bulldogs, 4-3. Adamson will be vying for third place in the resumption of the match against UST.
“Kailangan namin manalo dun. Pag nanalo dun, aangat kami sa third. ‘Yun lang habol namin, yung bronze,” Falcons head coach Orlando Binarao said.
The Bulldogs were ahead by the end of the third inning, 3-0, before Erwin Bosito and Steven Manaig scored two runs in the sixth inning for the Falcons.
Jerome Yenson scored the equalizer in the eighth inning, and Jayson Benito scored a clutch run in the ninth inning.
“Sayang, sayang talaga. Nung pinapanood ko yung laban ng Ateneo at UST, ang iniisip ko kami yung naglalaro, kami ‘yung UST kasi ‘yun ‘yung ine-expect ko kaso naging UST,” Binarao said.
The Falcons were the team to beat in the first round, as they handed both DLSU and Ateneo their first losses in the season, before losing their momentum against the Golden Sox at the end of the first round.
Earlier, defending champion La Salle came from behind to beat University of the Philippines, 9-5, leaving the Maroons winless in Season 79.
The Green Batters end the season with a 6-4 record.
Standings: UST 7-2, ADMU 7-3, DLSU 6-4, AdU 5-4, NU 4-6, UP 0-10.