Growling Tigers bounce back, squeak past Tamaraws for first win

Kevin Ferrer of University of Santo Tomas reacts after hit a basket against the Far Eastern University during their UAAP Season 77 elimination round game held at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on 20 July 2014. (Czeasar Dancel/NPPA Images)
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  • Kevin Ferrer
    Filipino basketball player

Unheralded forward Kent Lao preserved Kevin Ferrer’s late-game exploits with a clutch lay-up in the closing seconds as University of Santo Tomas squeaked past Far Eastern U on Sunday 69-67 for its first victory in the UAAP Season 77 men’s basketball tournament at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

After failing to see action in their 40-59 setback at the hands of National U last Sunday, the 6-foot-4 Lao turned out to be the biggest offensive package for the Growling Tigers, pumping in 12 of his 14 points in the second half, capped by a lay-up in transition that allowed them to take a 69-65 lead going to the last 19.5 seconds.

That big offensive play was sparked by forward Kevin Ferrer, who stole a kick out pass from FEU guard Achi Inigo and immediately passed the leather to guard Ed Daquioag who then issued the nifty feed to a streaking Lao for the game’s clutch play.

The 6-foot-4 Ferrer, who had a game-high seven turnovers the last time out, finished with 18 points, including back-to-back triples that gave them a 67-62 cushion with under two minutes left, while center Karim Abdul added 16 markers and six rebounds for the Tigers, who tied their victims in the middle of the pack with identical 1-1 records.

Forward Mac Belo led all scorers with 19 points while guard Mike Tolomia, the hero in their 82-77 stunner against defending champion La Salle last Saturday, had 14 markers but committed five errors, including a crucial one down the stretch that dealt a big blow to the Tamaraws.

After FEU opened the fourth with eight unanswered points to take a 58-53 lead, UST battled back with a decisive 14-4 surge, capped by Ferrer’s two straight triples, for a five-point cushion with 1:57 left to play.

A triple by Russell Escoto kept the Tams within striking distance but a pair of errors, the last off Inigo, proved big as they were forced to pay a stiff price by the Tigers, no thanks to Lao’s easy lay-up.

The Main Man: After an error-strewn performance against the NU Bulldogs, Kevin Ferrer bounced back big by scoring eight of his 18 points in the payoff canto, highlighted by back-to-back triples, that allowed UST to regain control at 67-62 going to the final two minutes of play.

Honorable Mention: Also coming up big for UST was reserved power forward Kent Lao, who pumped in all but two of his 14 points in the second half, none bigger than his unmolested lay-up in transition that restored their lead back to four at 69-65 with 19.5 seconds left.

Game Turning Point: No doubt it was Ferrer’s crucial interception of Inigo’s kick-out pass that led to Lao’s unmolested basket on the other end that clinched the win for the Tigers.

He Said It:
UST coach Bong dela Cruz: Nag-deliver mga bata. napag-usapan mga mistakes last game at ngayon pinakita nila kung paano maglaro ang Tigers.

The scores:
UST (69) — Ferrer 18, Abdul 16, Lao 14, Subido 6, Daquioag 5, Mariano 4, Vigil 4, Sheriff 2, Basibas 0, Gayosa 0, Lo 0, Pe 0.

FEU (67) — Belo 19, Tolomia 14, Ru. Escoto 8, Hargrove 8, Tamsi 5, Inigo 5, Cruz 4, Jose 2, Dennison 2, Delfinado 0, Pogoy 0, Denila 0, Ri. Escoto 0, David 0.
Quarterscores: 12-13; 31-26; 53-50; 69-67.

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