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Roaring return

Bea Micaller

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CJ Cansino and UST arrest a two-game slide.    JOAQUIN FLORES

For a change, University of Santo Tomas (UST) played with little to zero pressure.

The result was quite impressive as the Growling Tigers arrested its two-game slide with a 101-73 rout of University of the East (UE) in Season 82 University Athletics Association of the Philippines men’s basketball tournament yesterday at the Araneta Coliseum.

Beninese center Soulemane Chabi Yo bounced back from a two-point performance from the previous game and tallied 22 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Growling Tigers to a much-needed win and get back in the Final Four race.

Veteran forward Zachary Huang notched a career-high 22 points highlighted by six triples while Sherwin Concepcion contributed 10 points and seven boards for UST, which improved its record to 5-4 win-loss card.

“One of the factors that made us win today is that were able to let the kids release the pressure because in the past games that we played, there were a lot of pressures on them,” Growling Tigers head coach Aldin Ayo said.

“I just lowered my expectations. We put too much pressure on ourselves to play well and I think, today, we came in with the right mindset and we just played basketball,” Huang said.
“We just followed our system and listened to what Coach Aldin says,” he added.

After taking a 26-18 lead in the first period, UST outscored the Red Warriors in the second quarter, 29-11, to enter the break with a 55-29 advantage.

The Growling Tigers continued to attack in the second half and extended their lead to as high as 34 points, 72-38, on Huang’s three straight triples with 4:59 left in the game.

UE, which saw its own two-game winning streak snapped to drop to 3-6, never got its offensive going as its main man, Rey Suerte, was held down to just 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting from the field.

Six-foot-nine Senegalese center Alex Diakhite led the Warriors with 24 points and 12 rebounds while Neil Tolentino and Philip Manalang contributed 11 and 10 points, respectively.

In the first game, National University (NU) pulled off a shocking 85-79 overtime win over Far Eastern University to snap its own two-game slide and keep its Final Four bid alive.

Dave Ildefonso scored 27 points and grabbed 11 rebounds while Senegalese slotman Issa Gaye added 16 points and 11 rebounds to lead NU to a crucial win.

“Like what I always say, the kids are the stars of this win and as well as the coaching staff and the utilities,” said NU head coach Jamike Jarin, who also drew 15 points and eight rebounds from John Lloyd Clemente.

“We just go back to the basics in this game. What the formula was going back to the level one and following the instructions given to them,” he added.

The Tamaraws stormed back from a an 18-point deficit and tied the game at 71-all on Barkley Ebona’s basket with 14 seconds left in regulation.

In overtime, Gaye, Ildefonso and Clemente joined forces and gave the Bulldogs a 79-71 lead with 2:41 remaining and never looked to get just their second win of the season in nine games.

“We really hoped that it was just until the fourth quarter but, unfortunately, we lost our lead and went into the overtime,” Ildefonso said.

“This will serve as a lesson for all of us that we shouldn’t be relaxing even with a big lead.”

Ebona finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Tamaraws, who dropped to 4-5. Rookie Royce Alforque and Wendell Comboy each had 11 markers for coach Olsen Racela.

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