KEVIN Ferrer pumped life into University of Santo Tomas' flat-lining hopes on Saturday, coming up with a dazzling second-half performance that lifted the Tigers past Far Eastern University, 62-56, and forced a deciding Game Three in the UAAP Season 78 Finals.
The Tigers were behind 21-30 at the half and facing a sweep in the best-of-three series when Ferrer came to life, hitting six three-pointers in a 24-point third-quarter explosion that swung the momentum in UST's favor before a crowd of almost 22,000 fans at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The gangling senior forward finished with 29 points and had two big rebounds in the endgame when the Tigers held on to send the first title series between the two multi-titled teams in 36 years to a sudden-death game on Wednesday afternoon at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Ferrer shot 9-of-18 from the field and scored the lay-up that put the Growling Tigers ahead 47-37.
FEU had a 13-0 run in the fourth which game the Tamaraws back the lead 54-50, but the Growling Tigers just wouldn't be denied.
Louie Vigil put UST ahead, 55-54, and Karim Abdul scored two free throws as the Tigers entered the final two minutes with a 57-54 advantage.
“Nawala ‘yung enjoyment sa game,” said UST coach Bong Dela Cruz when asked what went wrong in the Game One loss. . “Sabi ko sa kanila, smile tayo sa game at i-enjoy natin, and at the same time, kailangan natin dumepensa at mag-enjoy sa depensa. Nasunod ‘yung game plan.”
Ferrer also grabbed 10 rebounds in a double-double effort for the Tigers. Abdul had 11 points and six rebounds despite committing three fouls right in the first period. Ed Daquioag atoned for his Game One struggle as he finished with 10 points.
Mac Belo had 16 points and 11 rebounds, while Roger Pogoy had 12 points but missed the later part of the fourth quarter due to cramps. Mike Tolomia only had seven points and missed several important shots in the end game.
UST (62) — Ferrer 29, Abdul 11, Daquioag 10, Vigil 5, Bonleon 3, Lao 2, Lee 2, Faundo 0, Huang 0, Sheriff 0.
FEU (56) — Belo 16, Pogoy 12, Jose 9, Tolomia 7, Inigo 5, Orizu 3, Tamsi 2, Dennison 2, Ru. Escoto 0, Arong 0, Ri. Escoto 0, Trinidad 0.
Quarterscores: 13-20, 21-30, 47-41, 62-56.