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UST gets a measure of revenge, claims PCCL crown

December 7, 2012 5:33pm
UST Growling Tiger Karim Abdul goes for the score, avoiding the block attempt by Tonino Gonzaga (R). KC Cruz

(Updated, 6:03pm) The University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers got a measure of revenge on the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles, winning 81-76, Friday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City, to claim their first Philippine Collegiate Champions League trophy.

The Growling Tigers fell to the Blue Eagles in a sweep during the UAAP Finals, but after the Eagles forced a winner-take-all match for the PCCL crown, UST made sure this one would not get away from them.

After leading by as much as 12 points in the fourth quarter, the Tigers succumbed to a late 9-0 blast by Ryan Buenafe and Kiefer Ravena with under two minutes to play that cut the lead to three. But Kevin Ferrer reinstated a five-point margin on a put-back play that saved the Tigers' campaign for their first championship since winning the UAAP crown in 2006.

Entering the fourth quarter with a 60-57 advantage, Teng blasted Ateneo with back-to-back triples, scoring 10 of their first 12. UST held its own as the Blue Eagles attacked the rim, despite Abdul playing with four fouls.

Consecutive baskets by Fortuna, followed by Teng's third triple of the quarter opened up a 12-point lead with under three minutes to play.

However, the Eagles refused to give up, as Buenafe uncorked two baskets in transition and a trey. Ravena was then fouled in transition anew and converted two from the line, capping a 9-0 run in the span of a minute to make it a one-possession game, 79-76, with 30.5 ticks remaining.

But once again Ferrer played the hero for UST, putting back a missed Abdul lay-up off a pick-and-roll to gain an 81-76 margin with 10.5 ticks to go. Buenafe missed a three-pointer off the inbounds pass, allowing the Tigers to dribble out the clock for the win.

Ateneo was shooting for their fourth first-place finish in the league, which pits the best teams from across the Philippines against each other.

The Eagles were forced to settle for jumpers in the first quarter, as Nico Elorde opened the game with a trey from the top of the key. But the Tigers were the aggressors early in the game, as UST scored 10 points at the rim in an ensuing 12-2 run, where Kevin Ferrer and Ed Daquioag combined for eight markers.

Juami Tiongson, Greg Slaughter and Ryan Buenafe came off the bench at the 5:21 mark in an attempt to swing the Blue Eagles' fortunes. The move shored up Ateneo's defense and allowed the Tigers just three more field goals until the quarter's end. Meanwhile, Buenafe and Tiongson's playmaking yielded a 14-6 run that planted Ateneo ahead, 19-18.

Graduating Blue Eagle Nico Salva (C) was unable to add to his tally of trophies. KC Cruz

In the second quarter, Ferrer and Jeric Fortuna bombed away and buried three shots from beyond the arc. However, a scrappy Eagles squad kept in step as Buenafe and Kiefer Ravena drove hard to the rim. The pair notched seven points as their team trailed, 30-29, with under six minutes to play.

An altercation broke out shortly between Ravena and Ferrer, resulting in technical fouls on Ravena and Ateneo assistant coach Sandy Arrespacochaga. Interim head coach Gabby Severino was also assessed a technical foul, but the Tigers buried only 2-of-5 charities to lead by three.

Incensed by the calls, Ravena scored seven of Ateneo's next eight to knot the game at 37-apiece with three-and-a-half minutes left. But Jeric Teng had the final say, as he buried two three-pointers off good ball movement to keep UST ahead at halftime, 45-39.

UST was unstoppable from beyond the arc as they nailed six three-pointers in the second quarter. Ferrer led all scorers at the half with 15 points.

The Tigers started the third quarter without Karim Abdul, and unsurprisingly UST struggled to keep Ateneo out of the paint. Buenafe and Nico Elorde drew fouls at the rim and made their charities, combining for seven in an 11-4 run to take a 51-49 lead.

The tables turned when Mariano knocked down a jumper with under five minutes to play to end a three-minute drought for UST. It was also their turn to cash in at the foul line, as Justin Chua was assessed with a personal foul and a technical foul, disqualifying him from the game. The Tigers made 2-of-4 charities to cap an 8-2 run with a minute and a half remaining.

As the quarter wound down Ateneo briefly held the lead after a Ravena triple and split charities by Oping Sumalinog, but they were thwarted anew by Fortuna's trey at the buzzer to lift the Tigers ahead by three, 60-57.

Ateneo took 11 free throws in the third quarter and made nine. In contrast, UST was 3-of-8 from the charity stripe.

UST won the first game of the best-of-three series, 82-76. But Ateneo bounced back in the second game, 70-69, to force the deciding match.

Jeric Teng, who was recognized as the tournament's MVP, notched 22 points, five rebounds and three assists, including a 5 for 8 mark from downtown. Sophomore sensation Ferrer added 21 points, nine boards and four assists on 9 for 18 shooting from the field.

The fourth-year player also made it to the Mythical Five, along with teammates Jeric Fortuna, who has played out his final season of eligiblity, and Karim Abdul, plus rivals Greg Slaughter, another player who won't return to the collegiate ranks next season, and Kiefer Ravena. Pido Jarencio was named Coach of the Year for piloting UST to the title. - AMD, GMA News
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