UST Tiger Cubs' Final Four hopes in peril as bench-clearing brawl mars win over UE
Game officials and bouncers step in to break up the fight. Dante Peralta

UNIVERSITY of Santo Tomas was declared winner over University of the East after their game in the UAAP Season 79 juniors basketball tournament was cut short following a bench-clearing brawl that erupted with 58.6 seconds left on Saturday.

Witnesses said a brawl erupted after an alleged elbow thrown by UE cager Andrei Dulalia on UST’s Miguel Ratuiste led to both players trading punches before the referees and bouncers could step in to break off the fight.

Witnesses said the fight escalated as there were players from both teams who left the bench and traded blows before officials could restore order at the San Juan Arena.

Officials then decided to call off the match and declare UST the winner. The Tiger Cubs led, 94-81, at the time of the stoppage.

UAAP commissioner Rebo Saguisag said the league will make a thorough review of the incident, but admitted officials face a tough task since there was only one camera used for the non-televised match.

The commissioner’s decision could have a big impact on UST since players and coaches who left the benches to either join the melee or break the fight face automatic suspensions under league rules.

The Tiger Cubs will be playing a playoff game for No. 4 against De La Salle-Zobel, which beat University of the Philippines Integrated School, 82-69.

UE is already out of the running for a Final Four spot.

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