KEVIN Ferrer scored a career-high 27 points to lead a big finishing kick as University of Santo Tomas frustrated Ateneo, 68-58, to grab a share of the lead in the UAAP Season 78 men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Growling Tigers finished the game on a 22-1 run behind three big Ferrer three-pointers, holding the Blue Eagles without a field goal in the last six minutes to complete a comeback from a 16-point second-half deficit.
In all, Ferrer, in his final season with Santo Tomas, finished with six three-pointers as the Tigers tied Far Eastern University at the top with a 4-1 record while bouncing back from a one-point loss to champion National University last week.
UST trailed by as many as 16 points and was still down, 46-57, before the Growling Tigers gathered some momentum behind Ferrer, who hit back-to-back three-pointers that made it a 54-57 game.
Ed Daquiaog hit the go-ahead basket while Karim Abdul hit back-to-back lay-ups as Santo Tomas grabbed a 63-58 lead with 2:05 left in the fourth.
“They were leading by 16, sabi ko tiyagain natin, baba natin sa 10,” said UST coach Bong Dela Cruz. “Nag-respond naman ’yung mga bata. Dumepensa sila.”
Kiefer Ravena had 13 points, uncharacteristically missing his shots at crunchtime. He made only 4 of 18 attempts, pulled down nine rebounds and six assists for the Blue Eagles, who failed to protect a 52-36 advantage in the third quarter.
Ateneo was also limited to six points in the final period.
“First three quarters, medyo flat kami on defense. Nag-huddle with Kevin Ferrer as the leader, kinausap niya, nagrespond naman sila,” said De la Cruz, whose team next takes La Salle on Wednesday.
Ateneo fell to third place with a 3-2 card.
UST (68)—Ferrer 27, Daquioag 9, Lee 8, Abdul 7, Bonleon 7, Vigil 6, Sheriff 3, Faundo 1, Caunan 0, Lao 0, Suarez 0, Subido 0.
Ateneo (58)—Pessumal 19, Ravena 13, Ma. Nieto 8, Babilonia 5, A. Tolentino 4, Gotladera 3, Apacible 2, Black 2, Pingoy 2, Cani 0, Capacio 0, Ikeh 0, Wong 0.
Quarterscores: 12-9; 26-30; 42-52; 68-58.