MARVIN Lee was red-hot from the on-set, leading University of Santo Tomas to a 79-68 win over University of the East on Sunday to sustain the Tigers' surprising rise up the UAAP Season 81 men's basketball tournament leaderboard.
The fourth-year guard scored 22 of his career-best 30 points in the first two quarters to put the Tigers in control after a slow start and rookie CJ Cansino took over from there, completing a triple double on one good foot.
Lee's red-hot shooting saw him drill five of his eight treys in the second period, where UST used a 16-2 blast to turn a 29-23 deficit to a 39-31 lead at Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Only Lee's hot shooting could take some shine away from another amazing performance of Cansino, who racked up a triple-double with his 20 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists despite being hobbled with a right ankle sprain for the majority of the second half.
The two's performance made up for the absence of injured starting point guard Renzo Subido. More importantly, the win helped coach Aldin Ayo's side move up to a share of fourth place with University of the Philippines on 5-5 (win-loss) records.
"We played well. We adjusted well on their offense especially after the first quarter. We just played defense. For us, everything starts with defense," said the fiery mentor.
The Tigers dominated the boards, 50-36, and held the opposition to just 20-percent shooting from downtown. In contrast, UST hit at a 31-percent clip.
UE stared at a 63-49 deficit but got as close as nine, 63-54 on an Alvin Pasaol bucket, but the Growling Tigers' supporting cast showed their poise in the endgame to bounce back from a 69-62 defeat to National University last week.
Zachy Huang added 14 points, seven boards, and two assists in the victory.
Pasaol unloaded 26 points and seven rebounds, but that could not stop UE from sliding to its sixth straight defeat - and 10th in 11 games overall.
Philip Manalang added 15 points, eight assists, and four boards, as Chris Conner had 12 points and seven rebounds in the losing cause.
UST 79 - Lee 30, Cansino 20, Huang 14, Bataller 4, Bonleon 4, Caunan 2, Agustin 2, Mahinay 2, Zamora 1, Marcos 0.
UE 68 - Pasaol 26, Manalang 15, Conner 12, Bartolome 6, Varilla 4, Strait 3, Lacap 2, Guion 0, Beltran 0, Cullar 0, Gallardo 0.
Quarters: 17-19, 39-33, 59-49, 79-68.