|UST's Kevin Ferrer challenges La Salle's defenders in Game 1 of their UAAP Best-of-3 Finals series. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNNews.com
MANILA, Philippines – It was third-year swingman Kevin Ferrer, and not graduating guard Jeric Teng, who did the most damage for the University of Santo Tomas (UST) in Game 1 of the UAAP Season 76 Finals against La Salle.
This, according to Green Archers coach Juno Sauler.
“We’re okay with Jeric Teng,” said Sauler after UST walked away with a 73-72 victory over La Salle on Wednesday. “I think it’s Ferrer who killed us.”
Ferrer scored a team-high 20 points, and made five of his eight three-pointers. He also fired the dagger triple off a broken play with less than a minute left that helped UST preserve the win. Teng, meanwhile, scored seven of his 17 points in the final period to help the Tigers.
“Jeric shot 36% from the two-point area, so that’s something that I can live with,” said Sauler. “But the 62% from three of Ferrer is the one that killed us.”
Ferrer, for his part, is thankful that the extra work he puts in after practice is paying dividends.
“Wino-work out ko, extra work palagi, extra shooting,” Ferrer said. “Lumabas naman.”
When asked about his back-breaking three-pointer in the fourth quarter, Ferrer said: “Five seconds na lang… Pagka-release ko, sobrang ganda ng spin ng bola. Ayun, alam ko ‘yun papasok.”
UST coach Pido Jarencio said Ferrer, more known as a stopper on defense, is completely focused on the task at hand – to win a championship.
“Kinausap ko siya. Sinabi ko sa kanya, mag-focus ka lang. 'Yung ginagawa mo, galingan mo, maging consistent ka sa ginagawa mo,” Jarencio said. “Kaya ngayon, naka-focus talaga siya.”
Sauler said the Green Archers will have to do a better job of denying Ferrer – and by extension, UST’s other perimeter players as well – once Game 2 tips off on Saturday.
“We just have to take away those shots of Ferrer from three,” he said, adding that La Salle needs to “challenge every shot (UST) takes on the perimeter.”