MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE) The University of Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers proved that they are quick learners.
Just one game after a painful loss to defending champion Ateneo de Manila University, with coach Aldin Ayo lamenting their poor decision-making, the Growling Tigers showed poise in securing an 87-74 overtime triumph over National University (NU) on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The bounce-back win gave the Growling Tigers a 3-1 win-loss record in UAAP Season 82, while the Bulldogs remained frustratingly winless after yet another heartbreaking defeat.
Soulemane Chabi Yo was superb once more, putting up 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting on top of 20 rebounds, while Rhenz Abando recovered from a slow start to finish with 21 points -- 13 of which came in the fourth quarter and overtime period.
"We did not play our game doon sa first three-and-a-half quarters," said UST head coach Aldin Ayo, who acknowledged that they got some breaks down the stretch. "Buti nag-pick up kami sa last five minutes of the fourth quarter."
"Sa dulo ng fourth quarter, buti composed pa rin ang mga bata," he added."
UST was down by five points, 68-63, with just 42.3 seconds left in regulation after Shaun Ildefonso muscled his way for a putback. A split at the line by Abando made it a four-point game with 39.1 ticks left, and from there the Bulldogs were undone by their turnovers.
Off a timeout, NU committed a five-second inbound violation, giving UST back the possession. It resulted in an Abando triple with 27.7 seconds left for a 68-67 NU lead, prompting Jamike Jarin to call for another timeout. Once again, however, the Bulldogs could not execute: they committed an eight-second backcourt violation, gifting UST the possession anew.
A touch foul by Issa Gaye on Zach Huang sent the UST veteran to the line, but he could make only one of two charities for a 68-all deadlock. The Tigers retained possession, but rookie guard Mark Nonoy rushed a triple and the ball went back to NU. Enzo Joson zoomed to the other end of the court for the go-ahead bucket with 6.5 ticks left, and the Bulldogs were in a celebratory mood as they inched close to their first win of the season.
However, they left too much time on the clock as the speedy Nonoy brought the ball down the court and found Chabi Yo wide open under the basket. The Beninese big man evaded Shaun Ildefonso's defense for the game-tying shot with 2.1 ticks to go, and Dave Ildefonso's heave at the buzzer was way off.
"The last six seconds, while our opponents were celebrating, we were able to convert and force the game to overtime," said Ayo.
UST's Sherwin Concepcion and NU's John Lloyd Clemente exchanged triples to open the extra period, but it turned out to be the last time that the Bulldogs would make a meaningful basket.
Abando, who struggled in the first three frames, nailed a three-pointer, followed by a Chabi Yo jumper for a 78-73 UST lead. Abando then drew Dave Ildenfonso's fifth and final foul in the next NU possession, then drill yet another triple on the other end to put the Tigers up 81-73.
It was all UST from there, as Gaye and RJ Minerva fouled out in succession for the now 0-3 Bulldogs.
Dave Ildefonso had 16 points on 7-of-20 shooting along with 6 rebounds for NU, while Clemente added 12 points on 5-of-15 shooting. But NU's turnovers -- three of which came after a timeout -- hurt them in the fourth quarter, preventing them from icing the game.
UST actually had more turnovers, with 25 throwaways that the Bulldogs converted to 21 points. But the Tigers were unstoppable in overtime, outscoring NU, 17-4, to secure their third triumph of the tournament.
UST 87 -- Chabi Yo 23, Abando 21, Concepcion 13, Nonoy 9, Subido 7, Paraiso 6, Huang 5, Cansino 3, Ando 0, Bataller 0, Cuajao 0.
NU 74 -- D. Ildefonso 16, Clemente 11, Joson 10, S. Ildefonso 9, Gaye 6, Oczon 5, Galinato 3, Mangayao 2, Gallego 0, Mosqueda 0, Rangel 0.
Quarter scores: 21-16, 30-31, 47-52, 70-70, 87-74
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