UE downs UST, forces Final Four playoff

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UNIVERSITY of the East (UE) posted  a crucial 78-73 win over University of Santo Tomas (UST) to force a playoff for the last Final Four slot in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 77 men’s basketball tournament on Tuesday at the Araneta Coliseum.

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UE is now sharing the No. 4 spot with National University with the same 9-5 cards.  They will clash in a do-or-die playoff game on Saturday at the Araneta Coliseum. The winner of the UE-NU match will advance to the crossover semifinals against top seed Ateneo de Manila University, which holds a twice-to-beat advantage.

“We’ve struggled a bit in the first half but we managed to get things going in the second. The players really played hard,” said UE mentor Derrick Pumaren. “And we just have to stay alive one more time.”

Galanza scored 10 of his 17 points in the second half and grabbed seven rebounds, while Dan Alberto had 15 points and playmaker Shej Roi Sumang contributed 10 points and dished out five assists for the Red Warriors.

Varilla added eight of his nine points in the fourth period and Chris Javier had eight points.

Sierra Leone native Charles Mammie, who scored seven points and five rebounds, was benched by Pumaren for arriving late in the game.

UE outscored UST in the third (24-15) that earned them a 60-50 lead heading to the payoff period.

Aljon Mariano, who played his last game for the Growling Tigers after finishing his eligibility, scattered 18 points to lead UST.

The Growling Tigers finished the season with 5-9.

Meanwhile, UAAP Commissioner Andy Jao upheld Ateneo’s 68-64 overtime win over Far Eastern University on Saturday. FEU filed a protest citing UAAP rules but it was turned down by the UAAP Commissioner’s Office.

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