UNIVERSITY of Santo Tomas played the spoiler role, defeating Far Eastern University, 86-83, on Sunday in the UAAP Season 81 juniors' basketball tournament at Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Liam Manabat was the unlikely hero for the Tiger Cubs in the clutch, first finding Jomar Amador for the go-ahead basket with 6.7 seconds remaining before swiping the ball off Royce Alforque and icing the game with a split from the line in the final 1.6 ticks to seal the slim victory.
Manabat only had four points, three assists, two rebounds, and one steal in the game, but his late game smarts were the biggest difference maker for UST as it snapped a two-game losing slide.
"Gusto naming manalo eh. Gusto ng mga batang manalo. Yung mga inemphasize namin defensively, nag-materialize naman," said coach Bonnie Garcia. "Siguro, in-underestimate nila kami, but for us, we always play hard talaga."
Mark Nonoy anchored UST with his all-around performance of 24 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, three steals and two blocks.
Bismarck Lina had 22 points, 18 boards, three assists and a block.
Amador added 13 points and six rebounds, none bigger than his gutsy baseline jumper that broke the 83-all deadlock in the waning seconds, as Johnvic Casingcasing got nine points and two boards.
UST is now assured of finishing fifth place in the tourney with its 6-7 win-loss card, with a collision course against De La Salle-Zobel remaining on its schedule.
The duo of Nonoy and Lina steered the Tiger Cubs to a 62-50 lead in the third quarter before Alforque dragged the Baby Tamaraws back in the game with a 15-3 spurt to knot the score at 65 near the end of the frame.
Alforque drilled the 15-foot jumper that gave the green side the 83-81 lead in the last 1:31.
But Vincent Marzan was ice cool from the line, knotting the score at 83 before UST's defense got the job done in the end game.
Alforque led the Baby Tamaraws with 26 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals, as RJ Abarrientos had 16 points, two boards and two dimes.
Xyrus Torres had 15 points and five rebounds for FEU-Diliman, joint third with Adamson with their 9-4 card as they sit half-game behind Ateneo (9-3).
UST 86 - Nonoy 24, Lina 22, Amador 13, Casingcasing 9, Marzan 5, Benzonan 5, Manabat 4, Oliva 3, Dumlao 1, Dolendo 0, Estrella 0.
FEU 83 - Alforque 26, Abarrientos 16, Torres 15, Tolentino 9, Sajonia 5, Ona 4, J. Bautista 3, Bagunu 3, Anonuevo 2, Barasi 0, Sleat 0, S. Bautista 0.
Quarterscores: 24-16; 49-43; 68-67; 86-83.