UNIVERSITY of Santo Tomas bucked a sluggish start, coming through in the clutch to hold off University of the Philippines, 76-72, and stay in contention for a quarterfinal berth in the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup on Wednesday at The Arena in San Juan.
The Growling Tigers trailed most of the way before clawing back in the endgame to pull off the gutsy victory against the UAAP’s whipping boys.
Kevin Ferrer, in his first game back after being with the Gilas Cadets in their Southeast Asian Basketball Championship title run, marked his return by burying the go-ahead three-pointer with under a minute left.
That capped off a splendid showing that saw him register a team-high 19 points, along with seven boards, three assists, and one block as the star forward joined forces with Ed Daquioag, Kent Lao, and Louie Vigil in securing the come-from-behind win.
“The veterans stepped up and they were willing to win,” said Tigers coach Bong de la Cruz, whose team notched only their second win in four games to stay in fifth in Group B and handed the Maroons their third straight loss after winning in their debut.
Gelo Vito tallied 19 points and 10 boards, scoring on a stab that gave the Maroons their last taste of the lead at 70-68 with one minute and 13 seconds to go.
UP, however, failed to capitalize as Paul Desiderio committed a turnover that led to Ferrer’s left-corner triple that took the fight out of the Maroons.
UST 76 – Ferrer 19, Daquioag 16, Lao 16, Vigil 12, Sheriff 5, Huang 3, Lee 3, Magno 2, Kakonda 0, Caunan 0, Arana 0
UP 72 – Vito 19, Desiderio 15, Tekoudjou 8, Lim 8, Gallarza 4, Amar 4, Moralde 4, Dario 3, Webb 2, Juruena 2, Asilum 2, Jaboneta 1, Prado 0
Quarterscores: 17-21, 32-38, 52-54, 76-72