UST's Kevin Ferrer dribbles towards the basket against NU. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines – University of Santo Tomas (UST) swingman Kevin Ferrer has no qualms about taking on the leadership role for the Growling Tigers, and showed it with his performance in their game against Far Eastern University (FEU).
Ferrer struggled mightily in their first game of the season against National University (NU), but was determined to make up for it against the Tamaraws. He deliver, sinking two clutch triples in the final quarter that helped UST snatch the victory, 69-67.
The lanky Ferrer finished with 18 points, but it was his leadership that made an impression, as he was seen calling his teammates into a huddle before they entered the dugout at halftime. In the final period, when FEU threatened to pull away, it was also Ferrer who called the Tigers together.
"Sinabi ko na hindi pa tapos 'yung laro," Ferrer said of his halftime message to his teammates. "Ituloy namin 'yung intensity, 'yung pinapakita namin ay mas lalo naming dagdagan, and wag mag-relax. Kasi second half naman 'yung importante diyan sa laban eh."
Ferrer's willingness to take on the leadership role is vital for a UST squad that lost talisman Jeric Teng to the PBA after back-to-back Finals stints.
"Ang nasa isip ko, kailangan kong bumawi, na hindi ako bibitaw," said Ferrer, who had seven turnovers in their opening day loss to NU.
"Pinakita ko din naman sa training namin na kailangan ko i-lift up 'yung team, kailangan kong dalhin, kailangan kong i-lead," he added. "Ayun, awa ng Diyos, na-lead ko nga."
Ferrer also revealed that he has heard some whispers about the things he needed to work on in his game and wanted to show that he had improved.
"May mga naririnig ako, mga nagsasabi na parang, kailangan ko i-improve 'yung ganito ko, eh ginawa ko naman. So thank you sa nagsabi sa akin," he said, adding that he mostly improved his conditioning.
Teng, for his part, said he was not at all surprised to see Ferrer assume the leadership mantle, nor was he surprised when the swingman elected to take the crucial shots in crunch time.
"Alam ko ipu-pull up niya talaga 'yun," said Teng. "I know how Kevin plays, and alam ko ititira niya talaga 'yung crucial shot na 'yun."