MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE) University of Santo Tomas (UST) made it rain from beyond the arc in the first half, then rediscovered their shooting touch in the clutch en route to a crucial 84-78 victory over University of the Philippines (UP), Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The hard-earned victory gave the Growling Tigers a 6-5 win-loss record in the UAAP Season 82 men's basketball tournament, keeping them in the hunt for the second seed which carries with it a twice-to-beat advantage.
As it stands, the Tigers are in solo third. UP, meanwhile, fell to 6-4 -- just half a game ahead of UST for the No. 2 spot.
Five players reached double-digits for UST, led by Sherwin Concepcion with 16 points and Soulemane Chabi Yo with 14 points and 10 rebounds. The Growling Tigers made 16 three-pointers, the most by any team this year.
"It was a good game. It was a good win, because it was a close game, and being a young team and making the right decisions down the stretch, that was big for us," said UST coach Aldin Ayo after their victory.
Twelve of UST's three-pointers came in the first half, when they built a 48-41 lead over the Fighting Maroons. That half also saw UP lose Kobe Paras to a shoulder injury, and Mark Nonoy go down due to an ankle injury. Both players returned in the second half to play crucial roles for their respective teams.
UST's three-point shooting bogged down in the third quarter, but they maintained a 60-57 advantage heading into the payoff period. They nursed that slim lead most of the way, taking a 70-66 lead after Subido nailed a step-back three-pointer with 5:13 to go.
But UP responded with a quick 5-0 burst, capped by a triple by Javi Gomez de Liano, to take a 71-70 lead. It was back-and-forth from there, though the Maroons looked as though they would come away with the win after going up, 78-74, following a Paras three-pointer with 1:41 to go.
That was when UST's veteran guard, Renzo Subido, stepped up. He drew a foul on Jun Manzo and calmly sank two free throws, then assisted on Brent Paraiso's go-ahead triple with 53.5 seconds left, 79-78. Off a UP timeout, the Tigers forced a turnover on Juan Gomez de Liano, and Subido made the most of the possession by drilling the dagger three-pointer with 26.7 seconds left.
"Andoon ako sa moment na 'yun na, this is my moment. I'm gonna take this shot," said Subdio, who finished with 13 points and 5 assists. "Pina-practice ko naman 'yun every day."
Paras misfired on a triple in UP's next possession, allowing the Tigers to ice the game at the free throw line.
Paras finished with 18 points and 5 rebounds, while Manzo and Ricci Rivero each had 12 points for UP. Bright Akhuetie had 10 points and 15 boards, as the Maroons finished the game shooting 12-of-36 from beyond the arc.
UST cooled down considerably after going 12-of-20 from long range in the first half, and wound up making 16-of-42 triples.
The result of the game also ensured that defending champion Ateneo de Manila University is assured of the top seed in the Final 4.
UST 84 - Concepcion 16, Chabi Yo 14, Subido 13, Cansino 12, Huang 9, Ando 7, Nonoy 7, Paraiso 6, Bataller 0, Bordeos 0, Cuajao 0
UP 78 - Paras 18, Manzo 12, Rivero 12, Gomez de Liano Ja 11, Akhuetie 10, Gomez de Liano Ju 5, Mantilla 3, Murrell 3, Prado 2, Webb 2, Jaboneta 0, Spencer 0, Tungcab 0
Quarter scores: 23-22, 48-41, 60-57, 84-78
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