The University of Santo Tomas (UST) Tiger Cubs recovered from a huge fourth quarter deficit to upset defending champions Far Eastern University (FEU) Baby Tamaraws, 81-80, in the UAAP juniors basketball tournament at the Blue Eagle Gym in Quezon City on Saturday.
Trailing by 13 points in the final 4:46 of the game, 66-79, after a brilliant offensive by Baby Tamaraw RJ Abarrientos, UST shifted to offense with four straight three pointers and a step-back free throw jumper by guard Rayjhun Baquial resulting in an 80-79 advantage for the Tiger Cubs with barely a minute to go in the game.
FEU’s LJ Gonzales then split a pair at the free throw line after receiving a hard foul from Liam Manabat with 30 seconds remaining to tie the game at 80.
UST’s Kobe Palencia then sank one of his two free throws with 8.3 seconds left in the game to set up the final score.
In the succeeding possession, Tiger Cub Bismarck Lina intentionally fouled Daniel Celso with 1.2 seconds remaining. Royce Alforque then missed a heave from way beyond to ice the game.
“The team really wanted to win so they showed everything they want to happen. We know that we cannot get the game perfectly. Sometimes, we will commit mistakes but we make up for it with defense,” UST head coach Chris Cantonjos said after the game.
“I am happy that I led [the team]correctly, I gave them the confidence to stay positive every game and every practice that we will not surrender. Our losing streak brought our morale down but we stayed positive and we showed everything during our game,” said Tiger Cub CJ Cansino, who also emerged as the season’s Most Valuable Player.
Cansino finished with 18 points, 16 boards and five assists. Baquial added 13 points, five rebounds and four dimes while Cyril Narvasa and Manabat chipped in 12 markers apiece.
Abarrientos led the Tamaraws’ charge with 24 points, five rebounds and three assists on nine of 19 shooting. Xyrus Torres and LJ Gonzales contributed 10 points apiece.
The Tiger Cubs will face the twice-to-beat National University Bullpups 4 p.m. on Tuesday at the Arena in San Juan.