UNIVERSITY of Santo Tomas booked a berth in the Philippine Collegiate Champions League Finals as it escaped past San Beda, 63-60, Friday night at The Arena in San Juan.
The Tigers rallied from an early 13-point second quarter (17-30) deficit behind the shooting of Kevin Ferrer and Aljon Mariano to take the lead for good, 49-46, in the second half.
“Gusto ng mga bata manalo,” said UST coach Pido Jarencio. “Ang mga tira namin di pumapasok (first half), pero at the end, `yung killer instinct at `yung desire to win lumalabas.”
“Siguro ganyan talaga ang ugali ng team. Sa end game pinapasarap, gusto pahirapan muna,” said Jarencio of the Tigers’ second half comeback.
The Tigers are in the finals of the tournament for the first time and will meet for the championship the winner of the Ateneo-San Beda tussle at the end of the tournament Final Four on Sunday.
“Bahala na basta nasa Finals,” said Jarencio when asked which between the two reigning collegiate champions he prefers to meet for the title.
Mariano had 18 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the field to lead the Tigers, who finished runner-up behind five-time champion Ateneo Blue Eagles last season.
Big man Karim Abdul came off with a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds, while Jeric Teng chipped in 12 for the Espana-based squad.
UST will round up its Final Four schedule on Sunday with a 2 p.m. game against Southwestern University.
Kyle Pascual finished with 18 points to pace San Beda, the three-time reigning NCAA men’s champion.
UST (63) -- Mariano 16, Abdul 12, Teng 12, Ferrer 8, Daquioag 5, Afuang 4, Fortuna 4, Bautista 2, Pe 0, Lo 0.
San Beda (60) -- Pascual, K. 18, Dela Cruz 10, Koga 10, Mendoza 6, Caram 5, Pascual, J. 4, Amer 4, Dela Rosa 3, Ludovice 0.
Quarterscores: 15-25, 35-39, 53-48, 63-60.