TANAUAN CITY , Philippines – University of the East leaned on the strong fourth quarter effort of Roi Sumang as it turned back a feisty Centro Escolar U, 85-77, to stay in the Sweet 16 of the Phl Collegiate Champions League at the Faith Academy Gym here yesterday.
Playing on half speed in a scoreless first three quarters, Sumang went on full throttle and scored all his eight points there while setting up teammates for booming triples and easy baskets as the Warriors stayed in the title hunt in the league staking P100,000 to the eventual titlist.
The victory set the Recto-based school against University of Batangas, which earlier prevailed over Lyceum of Subic Bay, 88-81, at 2 p.m. today.
The Warriors also found a gem in unheralded Bong Galanza, who erupted for a game-high 21 points. He scored all of these in the first three quarters when Sumang was uncharacteristically silent.
But when Sumang stepped on the gas, UE followed.
Down by five early in the game, the Warriors showed their true colors and zoomed to an 11-point lead, the biggest in the game, in the first quarter and appeared headed to blowing the Egay Macaraya-mentored Scorpions out.
CEU, the reigning NAASCU champion, however, did not wilt under pressure and slowly but surely clawed its way back and even knotted the count twice, the last at 62-all when NAASCU MVP Ralph Sedurifa drained a triple late in the third canto.
Enter super Sumang.
UE coach Boycie Zamar is far from satisfied.
“We can’t coast along like that because we will not make it that far if we continue to play like this, we need to play basketball from start to finish, not just in one quarter or two,” said an irate Zamar.
“Good thing Sumang took over in the fourth quarter otherwise, we’ll be in deep trouble,” he added.
UE’s win is just one of many it needs to advance to round-robin Final Four where La Salle and San Beda, the reigning UAAP and NCAA champions, respectively, and Southern Island group winner Southwestern U await.
“One step at a time, we don’t want to think ahead of us,” said Zamar.