MANILA, Philippines -- University of Santo Tomas (UST) veteran Zach Huang knows they are in a precarious position in the UAAP Season 82 men's basketball tournament.
A 72-58 loss to Far Eastern University (FEU) last Sunday put the Growling Tigers at 5-5, tied with the Tamaraws at joint third. Both teams are just half a game ahead of De La Salle University (4-5) in the chase for a Final 4 spot.
"Our backs are against the wall," admitted Huang, after the Growling Tigers absorbed their third loss in their last four games.
The UST captain lamented their poor play on both ends down the stretch, noting that they couldn't get any stops and couldn't buy a basket either.
"We were moving the ball well and we were getting our shots but they weren't falling for us," he said.
The Growling Tigers had no answer for FEU's rookie guard Royce Alforque, who engineered the Tamaraws' breakaway late in the game. After coming to within one possession, 53-51, the Tigers gave up five three-pointers to FEU.
Huang believed their individual defense was the issue, even as he acknowledged that they didn't expect Alforque's takeover.
"'Di kami naka-adjust agad sa kanya, kasi 'di namin siya ine-expect na mag-score," he said.
With four games left in their elimination round schedule, the Tigers need every win they can get to bolster their Final 4 bid. Only three spots are left in the semifinals, after defending champion Ateneo de Manila University (10-0) secured a spot last week.
"Bigay na namin lahat sa lahat ng remaining games namin, bigay namin yung best namin," Huang vowed.
The Tigers return to action on Wednesday, in a crucial clash against second-running University of the Philippines (6-3) at the Mall of Asia Arena. UST won their first round encounter, 85-69.
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