MANILA, Philippines—University of Santo Tomas ended an underwhelming campaign on a winning note in the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball tournament on Saturday.
The Growling Tigers repeated over the Far Eastern University Tamaraws, 57-53, but not after blowing a 15-point lead and surviving a scare down the stretch.
“From the get-go, we were aggressive and we stayed composed throughout the game. In the endgame, of course, we knew they were going to make a comeback and I give credit to the players. The composure was there and they didn’t lose hope,” said UST coach Pido Jarencio in Filipino.
“Maybe they felt enough was enough. They just got tired of all the losing and that it’s the right time to get our second win of the season.”
UST set the tone early and looked well on its way to a blowout win after taking a 51-40 lead midway through the fourth quarter. But FEU refused to go down without a fight and made it a one-possession game, 56-53, after a Jorick Bautista triple with under a minute left.
UST guard Paul Manalang, who scored just two points and missed all of his seven field goal attempts, hit a free throw to set the final count with 16.9 ticks to go.
The Tigers, who wrapped up their season last in the standings at 2-12, beat the Tamaraws, 68-62, in their first round encounter last October 22. They also finished at the bottom of the ladder last season with only one win to show.
Christian Manaytay led UST with 12 points and nine rebounds while Migs Pangilinan had 10 points and five rebounds. The Tigers’ main man Nic Cabañero didn’t have his usual game with only eight points on 2-of-10 shooting.
LJ Gonzales was held to just four points in his final UAAP game. Bautista picked up the slack with a game-high 17 points for FEU, which also ended its campaign at 3-11.