THE University of the East Warriors leaned on their deadly full court traps and Clark Derige’s heady plays in the third quarter to crush an off-form University of Santo Tomas, 91-77 yesterday at the Araneta Coliseum and keep alive their semifinal hopes in the 78th University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball tournament.
The Warriors posted only their fourth win in 11 games and remained in the hunt for a place in the Final Four.
Derige, a 6’2” guard, finished with a game-best 26 points and added six rebounds for the Warriors, who moved up to sixth spot.
Karim Abdul produced 25 points and Ed Daquioag added 11 for the Growling Tigers, who took their second loss in 12 matches.
The loss, however, hardly made a dent in UST’s drive for the no. 1 seeding in the semifinals.
Derige made his move midway in the third frame, where he scored back-to-back jumpers six minutes into the fourth to keep UE on top, 49-43.
Stepping up their defense, the Warriors converted on the Tigers’ miscues to move further, 59-48, the last two on Edgar Charcos’ basket from underneath.
UST did try to make a run to cut the lead to just two, 71-73, off a trey from Kevin Ferrer, but committed two turnovers in the next plays, which Derige turned into a trey and a layup, followed by Nick Abanto’s drive, 78-71, with 1:42 to go.
“I told the boys that we have to play with a sense of urgency. We still have a shot at the Final Four,” said UE coach Derick Pumaren.
“Ang dami naming turnovers,” said UST coach Bong de la Cruz, referring to his team’s 24 miscues.
The Warriors actually started the game started on the wrong foot when Paul Varilla, who had 10 points, scored on their own goal after getting the opening toss from Abdul.
The basket was counted in UST’s favor, but the Warriors quickly recovered with a 5-2 blast that gave them an early 9-4 lead.