UNIVERSITY of the East capped a late-season resurgence by beating University of Santo Tomas, 78-73, on Tuesday to earn a playoff shot at the last seat in the Final Four of the UAAP Season 77 men’s basketball tournament.
Bong Galanza scored a team-high 17 points as the Red Warriors finished the eliminations with a fifth successive win to forge a playoff for the right to join Ateneo, La Salle, and Far Eastern University in the semifinals.
The two teams, who finished tied on 9-5 win-loss records, square off on Saturday, 4 p.m, also at the Araneta Coliseum.
“I think we came out with a lot of intensity and energy in the second half,” said UE coach Derrick Pumaren.
Dan Alberto scored 15 points while Roi Sumang added 10 for the Red Warriors, who played in the first half without big man Charles Mammie after he arrived in the venue just 30 minutes before tip-off - and was subsequently benched by Pumaren.
But Mammie, along with Galanza and Alberto, joined forces in the third period when the Red Warriors outscored the Tigers, 24-15, to take a 60-50 lead entering the final period.
Galanza capped a 12-2 run in the third quarter with a triple that had UE pulling away to a 58-45 lead and the Red Warriors’ lead was never seriously threatened after that.
UST ended a disappointing first season under rookie coach Bong Dela Cruz with a 5-9 win-loss record after making it as far as the finals the two previous seasons under Pido Jarencio.
Aljon Mariano finished his UAAP career by scoring a team-high 18 points before fouling out in the final seconds of the game. Ed Daquioag finished with 16 points while Karim Abdul added 13.
UE (78) – Galanza 17, Alberto 15, Sumang 10, Varilla 9, Javier 8, Mammie 7, Palma 4, Arafat 3, Olayon 2, Guiang 2, Jumao-as 1.
UST (73) – Mariano 18, Daquioag 16, Abdul 13, Pe 9, Lo 7, Sheriff 6, Vigil 4, Subido 0, Gayosa 0, Lao 0, Basibas 0, Faundo 0.
Quarterscores: 15-17, 36-35, 60-50, 78-73.