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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

UST Tigresses survive Maroons, set finals date with NU in UAAP women’s basketball

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University of Santo Tomas learned from its mistakes in its past game, surviving not one, but two huge University of the Philippines second half rallies to advance to the UAAP Season 86 Women’s Basketball Finals.

The second-ranked Growling Tigresses recovered in time to eliminate No. 3 Fighting Maroons in the rubber match, 87-83, and set a date with the National University Lady Bulldogs in the best-of-three championship, Saturday at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

Game One will be on Wednesday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena. Tip-off time will be announced later in the day.

The Lady Bulldogs, the elimination round topnotcher with a 13-1 run, are gunning for an eighth straight crown.

“I would just like to commend my team who really worked hard for this Finals appearance. It’s a team effort, lahat tumrabaho from the start to the finish. I will not take away also the UP Fighting Maroons for giving us a good fight,” said UST head coach Haydee Ong, who also steered the Tigresses to the Finals in Season 82.

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“It’s very important kasi we know that UP is a resilient team, they will always come back after the first game namin na we had a big lead and kinain nga. I told the ladies that we have to protect the lead and we did up to the last quarter,” she added, citing their 36-27 first period where they shot 14-of-18 from the field.

UST was comfortably ahead 67-50 early in the third canto.

But just like in their two elimination round encounters which they split and in Game 1 last Wednesday that saw UP hacking out an 88-80 overtime victory, the Tigresses had to gut it out against the Maroons in their final encounter for the season.

Then the Fighting Maroons’ storm followed. Achrissa Maw, Favour Onoh, and Kaye Pesquera teamed up for 13 straight points and pulled their team to within four, 63-67, with 1:11 left in the frame.

However, UST responded as Rocel Dionisio, Eka Soriano, and Pastrana connived to restore order heading to the final quarter, 74-66.

But the resilient UP did not go without a fight even if it was down 77-86 with 57 seconds to go in the game.

Christie Bariquit first missed two free throws but Onoh was there for the stickback that started the Fighting Maroons followed by four free throws made by Louna Ozar and Pesquera to inch within three with 15.0 seconds remaining, 86-83.

However, UP’s one team foul became a hurdle as it needed to foul four times to send UST to the line. Brigette Santos made the first before missing the second with 6.2 ticks to go but Rhea Sanchez’s triple in the next play was way off.

The loss ended the Fighting Maroons’ quest for their first Finals stint since 2008.

“Sobrang grateful kasi binigay sa amin itong opportunity na ito na lumaban sa Finals against NU. Gagawin pa rin namin ang best namin hanggang makuha namin yung panalo,” said the transferee Pastrana, who got 18 points and five rebounds in the contest.

Santos keyed UST’s 36-point first period with 10 points there, finishing with 14 points to go with five steals and four rebounds.

Nikki Villasin and Tacky Tacatac contributed 12 and 11 points, respectively, while Tantoy Ferrer tallied 11 points, 12 rebounds, and seven assists.

Onoh paced UP with 21 points but was limited to 14 rebounds, considering she grabbed a record 30 boards last time. She also committed seven of the team’s 23 turnovers. 

Pesquera chipped in 20 points, Maw added 15, while Bariquit got 11 points, nine rebounds, and six assists.

Ozar was held to just 13 points on 4-of-10 shooting after leading the Fighting Maroons in the first game with 25 points on 10-of-15 clip.

Justine Domingo and Sanchez have played their final game for UP.

The Scores:

UST 87 – Pastrana 18, Santos 14, Villasin 12, Ferrer 11, Tacatac 11, Soriano 9, Dionisio 6, Bron 3, Danganan 3, Maglupay 0, Serrano 0.

UP 83 – Onoh 21, Pesquera 20, Maw 15, Ozar 13, Bariquit 11, Domingo 3, Sanchez 0, Vingno 0, Tapawan 0, Lozada 0.

Quarterscores: 36-27, 56-47, 74-66, 87-83

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