MANILA, Philippines – The University of Sto. Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers took a halftime lead over defending champions Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU) Blue Eagles in the opening game of their best-of-3 UAAP men’s basketball finals.
The Tigers took advantage of the error-prone Eagles for a 38-31 halftime lead in Game 1 of their title series.
Nico Salva paced Ateneo to start the game, scoring on a three-point play to put his team ahead, 5-2.
UST also came out firing, capped by Jeric Teng’s floater which enabled the Tigers to get a slim 8-7 advantage.
After Kevin Ferrer’s free throws, Juami Tiongson knocked in a triple to tie the game at 10 points apiece.
Ferrer connected from downtown and Karim Abdul scored a bucket for a 15-12 UST lead.
But Salva kept it close for Ateneo, eventually trimming the Tigers’ lead to 15-14.
Jeric Fortuna scored a booming triple, but Salva and Greg Slaughter made back-to-back baskets to tie the game, 18-all.
The Tigers then launched a searing 6-0 run to take a 24-18 lead going into the second quarter.
Two straight buckets by Ateneo in the second quarter chopped UST's lead to 26-21.
An exchange between UST’s Kim Lo and Salva saw the scores 29-23 for the Tigers.
Teng drove past Kiefer Ravena for a layup, then Abdul exchanged baskets with Tiongson for a 33-25 UST advantage.
Aljon Mariano’s three-point play gave the Tigers their biggest lead in the first half, 36-25.
After missing a couple of field goal attempts, Ravena finally nailed a couple of shots on the stripe to make the scores 36-27.
A low post play by Teng paid off for a 38-29 lead, but a last-second bucket by Ateneo made it 38-31.
Mariano led the Tigers with 11 points, while Salva had 15 for Ateneo.
UST's Teng, Abdul and Ferrer combined for 21 points.