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Growling Tigers beat Maroons again to reach UAAP Finals

The Battle of Katipunan will not happen again in the finals of the 82nd University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball tournament.

UP Fighting Maroons forward Kobe Paras (6) tries to drive past UST Growling Tigers defender Ira Bataller (27) during their Do-or-Die Game, Wednesday, November 13, 2019 for the second finals berth of UAAP Men’s Basketball Tournament at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City. Dennis Abrina
Two charities from Beninese big man Soulemane Chabi Yo in the last 4.4 seconds made sure of this as the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers escaped with a 69-65 triumph over the misfiring University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons yesterday at the jampacked Mall of Asia Arena.

The 6-foot-6 Chabi Yo’s charities came moments after three Maroons missed three successive attempts during a single possession, and this put the Growling Tigers in the best-of-three finals against the defending champion Ateneo Blue Eagles.

“It was tough for us because of their adjustments. We tried to counter. We were able to get our shots kaya lang hindi pumapasok. I kept telling the boys to keep on taking those shots kasi ‘yun naman ‘yung mga tinitira namin,” said UST coach Aldin Ayo.

The disappointing setback suffered by the Fighting Maroons in their two-game stepladder semifinals with the Growling Tigers will keep UP from confronting their Katipunan Avenue neighbor, the Blue Eagles, for the second straight season.

The sophomore Chabi Yo showed the way for the Growling Tigers with 22 points and 16 rebounds while teammate, point guard Renzo Subido added 14 points.

Bright Akhuetie finished with a game-high 16 points and 17 rebounds, and he could have won the game earlier in the last 5.6 seconds.

But, Akhuetie, Kobe Paras and Javi Gomez de Liano all missed their attempts that gave UST the chance to make it to the finals again after four years.

The 59” Subido sank his fourth trey of the game with 23.6 ticks left off Rhenz Abando’s pass, and this gave the lead back to the UST after UP took charge for four minutes.

June Manzo fired 12 points for UP, while Juan Gomez de Liano had eight, with his jumper with 5:16 remaining shattering a 57-all deadlock, and allowing the Fighting Maroons to gain the upper hand for the first time in the game.

But Manzo fouled out with 2:33 remaining, UST found their way back in the lead off two freebies from Mark Nonoy, Abando’s drive, and finally, Chabi Yo’s charities.

Ricci Rivero also had 12 for the Maroons, and with UP ahead, 65-63, the double teamed Rivero turned the ball over after eight-second crossing violation, and this added to UST’s winning chances in the closing minutes at the 1:03 mark.

A moment of silence was offered before the game to Lucio “Bong” Tan Jr., who passed away on Monday at the age of 53.

Tan coached the University of the East Warriors during the elimination round.

The eldest child of taipan Lucio C. Tan, he was taken to Cardinal Santos Medical Center in San Juan City after he collapsed during a basketball game in Mandaluyong City.

Topics: University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons , University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers , 82nd University Athletic Association of the Philippines , Kobe Paras , 82nd University Athletic Association of the Philippines , Soulemane Chabi Yo
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