MANILA -- (UPDATE) Transferee Rhenz Abando did damage for the University of Santo Tomas (UST) to carry the Growling Tigers to a 95-82 win over the University of the East (UE) Red Warriors at the start of the UAAP Season 82 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Wednesday.
Abando, who hails from La Union, dropped 15 of his 22 markers in the first half to give UST its first win of the season in his UAAP debut match. He also had four boards and three assists.
The newcomer, however, was quick to downplay his impressive first match, saying he would rather focus on their next game.
“Sa akin kailangan ulit naming mag-focus sa team namin. Fast forward na kami sa susunod na game,” Abando said.
Reigning Rookie of the Year CJ Cansino made sure his return would be felt as he scored a jumper followed by a three from Zach Huang for a 23-point advantage at the 7:44 mark of the payoff period, 78-55.
UE rallied back late in the fourth after Alex Diakhite's stop and pop jumper to trim the deficit to 17, 66-83. Rey Suerte and Kris Pagsanjan then rallied for a 5-0 spurt to further cut the lead to 12, 71-83.
But Abando muscled his way in in the ensuing play before Brent Paraiso knocked down a triple to restore control, 88-71, with 2:30 in the fourth.
Pagsanjan gave the Red Warriors hope anew with a basket. However, Mark Nonoy scored a crucial three-pointer for UST to make it 93-80.
“It feels good to win your first game because it gives you confidence, boosts your morale, especially when you have 9 incomers. Kapag marami kang baguhang players gusto mo makita agad na lumabas 'yung laro ng bata para ma set ‘yung tone,” UST head coach Aldin Ayo said.
Diakhite produced a 20-20 performance in his first UAAP game with 20 points and 21 rebounds. Suerte topscored for the Red Warriors with a game-high 23 points.
Down by five midway in the opening period, the Tigers rolled with a 16-3 spurt to establish a 27-19 separation highlighted by back-to-back treys of Abando. UST never looked back from then on.
Senegalese Diakhite tried to close the match in the second quarter after two charities, but Abando joined force with Cansino and Sherwin Concepcion to erect a 12-point lead, 45-33, with 2:44 left in the first half.
Soulmaine Chabi Yo completed a three-point play at the 3:11 mark in the third after a three-pointer from Abando to create an 18-point separation, 65-47.
Nath Consejo opened the final quarter with four straight points, including a putback jumper in the 8-minute mark.
Chabiyo finished the game with 19 markers and 12 rebounds while Paraiso and Concepcion had combined 20 points.
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.