University of Santo Tomas (UST) warded off University of the Philippines’ late rally to hack out an 83-76 triumph that earned them a Final Four spot on Sunday in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 78 men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Forward Kevin Ferrer sizzled with 23 of his game-high 29 points in the second half to go along with 14 rebounds and three assists, while Louie Vigil tallied 16 points plus six assists and Ed Daquioag had 15 points to send the Growling Tigers back to the Final Four.
The Growling Tigers, who also drew 10 points from Karim Abdul, improved to 9-2 win-loss record.
Kiefer Ravena, meanwhile, finally found his shooting touch when it mattered most to lead Ateneo De Manila University to a 68-59 victory over defending champion National University (NU).
After struggling offensively in his recent games, Ravena poured in 21 of his season high 32 points in the first quarter while veteran guard Von Pessumal pumped in 20 points on 4-of-6 shooting beyond the three-point zone to hand the Blue Eagles their third game winning streak.
Ateneo improved to 7-4 win-loss record.
“My ankle remains 70 percent but I’m happy that I was able to contribute,” said Ravena, who shot 6-of-11 in the three-point zone. Ravena suffered a minor ankle injury last Wednesday during Ateneo’s victory over UST.
“I’m really happy that my teammates also contributed well in this game, “ said Pessumal, who scored 17 points in second half.
After leading by 24-16 at the end of the first frame, the Blue Eagles became cold in their offense allowing the Bulldogs to come within 38-35 at halftime.
But Ateneo started the second half impressively and sustained its performance in the last period to send NU to its seventh loss after 11 games for a 4-7 win-loss record.
“We talked about our defense before the game. If we could play better defense especially to their main attacker Gelo Alolino, there is a better chance of winning,” said Ateneo coach Bo Perasol. “It really helped us at the start when somebody is going to score 21 points in the first quarter. It helped us a lot. Kiefer and Von had a good offensive game, but it was our defense that really counts.”
Gelo Alolino led the Bulldogs with 17 points and five rebounds, while center Alfred Aroga had 10 points and 14 rebounds.
The Blue Eagles tallied more three-point shots (11-6), rebounds (43-39) and assists (13-9) than the Bulldogs.