Their overconfidence almost cost University of Santo Tomas a win.
But their composure in the closing minutes allowed the Growling Tigers to prevail in overtime over the National University Bulldogs, 87-74, yesterday in a place that Bulldogs consider as their own homecourt, at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Beninese cager Solemane Chabi Yo tallied a game-high 23 points and had 20 boards for the Growling Tigers, including back-to-back baskets in the dying minutes of extra time, to lift the Growling Tigers to their third win in four games in the 82nd University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men’s basketball tournament.
Chabi Yo’s heroics came with 2:37 left, and it came on top of an 8-0 run that shattered the game’s final deadlock, 73-all.
After that, the winless Bulldogs (0-3) were already in foul trouble, and could no longer catch up with key players Dave Galinato and Issa Gaye close to fouling out in the remaining time, with UST ahead 81-73.
Rhenz Abando drilled in 21 points, with one of his five treys finding their mark in the remaining 3:01, and pushing UST out of a 73-all tie.
“Sinuerte pa kami sa dulo. We did not play our game in the first three quarters. Buti na lang nag-pick up kami sa last five minutes ng fourth quarter,” said UST coach Aldin Ayo.
The Bulldogs, with Dave Ildefonso leading with 16 points, went into celebration after Enzo Joson drove past Abando with 6.5 seconds left for what should have been the winning basket in the last five seconds of regulation, 70-68.
But, the 6-foot-6 Chabi Yo quickly sprinted back to their own end of the court, and scored the game’s eighth deadlock which sent the contest into overtime at 70-all.
The Growling Tigers remained behind the solo-leading Ateneo Blue Eagles, who blasted the Far Eastern University Tamaraws, 63-46, last Saturday to post win no. 4.
Sherwin Concepcion shot 13 points for UST, while Mark Nonoy added nine.
John Lloyd Clemente made 12 points for NU while RJ Minerva converted 11.
“Masyado kaming kumpiyansa. Nagkampante kami sa laro. Buti na lang sa fourth quarter, sinapian kami ng suerte,” stated Abando.
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