UNIVERSITY of Santo Tomas unraveled 16 unanswered points in the payoff period to carve out another epic come-from-behind win, 75-68, over hard-luck University of the Philippines Saturday in the UAAP seniors Basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Jeric Fortuna sparked the game’s telling run with back-to-back three-point plays to give the Tigers the lead after trailing by as many as 46-53 by the end of the third quarter.
The win – the latest in a series of comeback victories fashioned out by UST this season - solidified the Tigers’ hold of second place at 9-3 going to their highly-anticipated rematch with defending champion Ateneo on September 15.
“Masarap lang doon ‘yung will to win lalo na noong last quarter. Andoon pa rin ‘yung mga bata, kinuha nila ‘yung lamang after three minutes,” said UST coach Pido Jarencio.
Aljon Mariano had 16 points, while big man and leading MVP contender Karim Abdul also notched 16 and a season-high 21 rebounds. Fortuna added 11 and 12 rebounds for the Tigers.
Fortuna’s three-point play off an offensive rebound sparked the shift of momentum for UST, which finally took the lead as Fortuna completed a three-point play. Jeric Teng then stole the ball and scored on another three-point play for a 63-59 lead.
Mariano later capped the run with a huge basket that beat the 24 second shot clock and stretched the Tigers’ lead to 70-59.
Anjelo Montecastro had 17 points as the Maroons slipped to 1-11 overall.
UST (75) -- Mariano 16, Abdul 16, Fortuna 11, Teng 10, Bautista 9, Ferrer 4, Daquioag 3, Vigil 2, Pe 2, Lo 2, Hainga 0, Afuang 0.
UP (68) -- Montecastro 17, Silungan 14, Soyud 11, Ball 6, Lopez 6, Romero 5, Manuel 5, Padilla 2, Hipolito 2, Mbah 0, Wong 0, Gamboa 0, Asilum 0.
Quarterscores: 20-14; 35-38; 46-53; 75-68.