By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
Senior Reporter
THE University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers are officially on a roll in UAAP Season 81 after picking up their third straight win with a 78-70 victory over the Far Eastern University Tamaraws on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Finishing the first round of the ongoing University Athletic Association of the Philippines season with back-to-back victories, the Tigers began the second round on a high note by showcasing a gutsy performance that had them taking everything that the Tamaraws threw at them and rising to book the win.
The contest started tight with both teams making runs and counter-runs.
UST though would make a late charge in the first quarter, led by guard Renzo Subido, to hold a 23-19 lead at the end of the first 10 minutes.
The Tigers continued with their spirited play to start the second quarter, outscoring the Tamaraws, 6-0, to stretch their lead to 10 points, 29-19, at the 5:23 mark of the canto.
Alec Stockton tried to rally FEU back but they could only come within four points, 37-33, by the halftime break.
FEU tied the count at 37-all early in the third period as Richard Escoto racked up four straight points.
UST though countered with a 7-0 blast after to build a 44-37 advantage midway into the frame.
The Tamaraws were undeterred as they kept coming back.
They tied the score at 46-all with 1:25 to go off a made basket by Axel Iñigo.
When third-quarter play ended, the two teams were levelled at 49-all.
The two teams began the fourth quarter angling to create leverage to pull away.
Back-to-back triples by veteran guard Marvin Lee pushed UST to a 55-51 lead a minute and a half into the final quarter.
The Tigers would add up to it, with Subido and Germy Mahinay helping their team to a 63-54 advantage with a little over five minutes left.
Arvin Tolentino moved to tow the Tamaraws back but UST continued to find ways to fend them off.
The Tigers held a 70-60 lead entering the last two minutes and just held on the rest of the way for the win.
Zach Wang led the way for UST with 20 points followed by Lee and Subido with 17 and 14 points, respectively.
Mahinay finished with 10 points and eight boards.
FEU, meanwhile, was paced by Escoto and Tolentino with 12 and 11 points each.
Incidentally, Tolentino was ejected from the game in the closing moments following a disqualifying foul on Wang.
“We played well again. The game of the kids came out in this one and we’re happy with the win. There is still a long ways to go. We are not going to be satisfied with these wins,” said UST coach Aldin Ayo after their win, speaking of their victory over FEU and their ongoing winning streak.