UAAP: UST conquers FEU to set battle with UP

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 06 2019 06:45 PM | Updated as of Nov 06 2019 09:49 PM

UAAP: UST conquers FEU to set battle with UP 1
UST Growling Tiger Zach Huang battles FEU Tamaraw Barkley Eboña for the rebound during their do-or-die game on November 6, 2019. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines -- (2ND UPDATE) University of Santo Tomas (UST) got off to a fiery start and showed its composure in the closing stretch to seize an 81-71 triumph over Far Eastern University (FEU) in the UAAP Season 82 stepladder semifinals.

In front of a packed crowd at the Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday, the Growling Tigers found their mark from beyond the arc early in the game, building a big lead against the shell-shocked Tamaraws. They answered FEU's rallies in the third period with timely three-pointers, before fending off a late fightback by the Tams in the crunch.

Fittingly, it was a three-pointer that served as the dagger, with veteran point guard Renzo Subido drilling a triple for a 13-point lead, 78-65, with just 1:28 to play.

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With the result, the Growling Tigers are now headed to the next phase of the stepladder semifinals, where they will play the University of the Philippines (UP) for the right to reach the championship round. The Fighting Maroons own a twice-to-beat advantage.

"Nothing comes easy. That has always been our season. Walang madali eh. Right from the start noong season namin, talagang mahirap eh," said UST head coach Aldin Ayo.

"Itong laro na 'to, akala namin madali, pero FEU ang kalaban namin. Hindi basta bibigay. Lalaro ng maayos. They are well-coached, they have the players. Nagkataon lang na nasa amin 'yung bola ngayon. 'Yung mga tira namin ang pumapasok," he added. 

Leading the way for UST was Season 82 Most Valuable Player Soulemane Chabi Yo, who put up 25 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 assists. Brent Paraiso added 18 points and 5 rebounds. Subido finished with 14 points, while Mark Nonoy, the Rookie of the Year, had 6 points and 7 assists.

Paraiso set the tone for the Growling Tigers as he opened the game with a four-point play. UST drilled nine three-pointers in the first half to take a comfortable 54-28 advantage at the break.

Chabi Yo was unstoppable, making all seven of his field goals in the first half to thoroughly outplay the FEU frontline. Making matters worse for the Tamaraws was the ejection of veteran big man Barkley Ebona, after he was given a disqualifying foul with 1:19 to play in the second period. 

The Tamaraws refused to go down easily, however. They tightened up defensively in the third frame, limiting the Tigers to just 16 points. FEU trimmed the deficit to 10 points, 64-54, with 1:33 to go in the quarter, but they gave up three-pointers to Rhenz Abando and Subido in the final 30 seconds to head to the fourth period with a 70-56 lead.

Momentum swung back to FEU to start the fourth frame, with the Tamaraws scoring 9 unanswered points to make it a 5-point game, 70-65, with still 6:39 left. Subido and Chabi Yo came to the Tigers' rescue, scoring back-to-back layups before Nonoy split his charities for a 75-65 count with 4:22 to go.

Both teams endured a prolonged scoring drought from there, before Subido nailed the dagger three-pointer. FEU threatened for the last time when Ken Tuffin and Xyrus Torres both hit from beyond the arc to make it a 7-point game, 78-71, with under a minute to go, and it seemed as though the Tamaraws got another break when Paraiso was called for a traveling violation.

The Tigers stood firm in the final 30 seconds, however, with even a minor tussle between Paraiso and Alec Stockton doing little to affect the final result. 

"Some of you will say that we are 2-0 against UP, but they are a different team right now, and 'yung mga nangyari doon sa elimination, it won't matter anymore because they're a different team," said Ayo, when asked about their match-up with the second-seeded Fighting Maroons. 

"This is Final 4. So lahat gagawin dito. Kung ano man ang dapat nilang gawin, of course, they're going to do that."

After a scorching first half, UST cooled down in the second period and finished the game shooting 38.36% from the field. FEU finished with a 33.33% clip, but the Tams were outrebounded, 52-41. The Growling Tigers won despite turning the ball over 25 times, which led to 24 points for FEU.

Tuffin led the Tamaraws with 20 points, while sophomore guard LJ Gonzales had 11 points and 9 assists. FEU outscored UST, 43-27, in the second half, but it was simply not enough to dig themselves out of the big hole they found themselves in after the first two quarters of play.

Playing their final games for FEU were Ebona, Ino Comboy, Hubert Cani, and Kimlee Bayquin. 

Cani finished with 10 points, while Comboy scored just 8 points on a paltry 2-of-17 clip. Ebona had 9 points and 7 rebounds before his ejection, while Bayquin was scoreless in 13 seconds of action. 

The scores:

UST 81 -- Chabi Yo 25, Paraiso 18, Subido 14, Abando 9, Nonoy 6, Huang 4, Bataller 3, Cansino 2, Ando 0, Concepcion 0, Cuajao 0.

FEU 71 -- Tuffin 20, Gonzales 11, Cani 10, Ebona 9, Comboy 8, Torres 8, Tchuente 5, Alforque 0, Bayquin 0, Bienes 0, Stockton 0.

Quarter scores: 26-16, 54-28, 70-56, 81-71.

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