THE University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers returned to the win column of UAAP Season 81 with a 79-68 victory over the University of the East Red Warriors in league action on Sunday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
Tripped in their last game that saw their three-game winning streak come to an end, the Tigers regrouped against the Warriors, bucking a slow start and speeding when they got their collective flow going to improve to a 5-5 record, still very much in the hunt for a Final Four spot in the ongoing University Athletic Association of the Philippines season.
Paced by guard Philip Manalang, the Warriors would take control early in the contest.
UE held a 17-9 lead by the 4:54 mark of the opening quarter before hanging tight to hold a 19-17 advantage at the end of the first 10 minutes.
In the second quarter, Jason Varilla would start things with four quick baskets to give the Warriors a six-point cushion, 23-17, early, continuing to hold sway, 29-23, midway into the frame.
But UST would pick up things from there.
Led by veteran Marvin Lee and rookie CJ Cansino, the Tigers would go on a 10-2 run in the next three minutes to seize the lead, 33-31.
It was a leverage UST would take full advantage of as it finished the quarter with a 6-2 blast to hold a 39-33 lead by the halftime break.
UE tried to make up for lost ground to begin the third period behind top man Alvin Pasaol.
The Tigers though proved to be up to the challenge, continuing hold control, 50-41, with 5:15 to go in the quarter.
The two teams slugged it out the rest of the period with UST holding a 59-49 lead heading into the payoff quarter.
UST opened the final quarter with four straight points inside the first minute to make it a 63-49 advantage.
But Pasaol and the Warriors would make repeated attempts to make their way back but with little success.
The count stood at 70-58, and UST ahead, with a little under four minutes left.
From there the Tigers held steady and made their way to the victory.
Lee led the Tigers with 30 points, boosted by eight triples.
Cansino had a triple-double of 20 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists while Zach Huang had 14 points and seven boards.
Pasaol finished with 26 points for UE (1-10) while Manalang had 15.
“We played well and adjusted our offense. In the first quarter things were not going for us but before the first half ended we did better,” said UST coach Aldin Ayo after the win.
Incidentally, UST played sans top guard Renzo Subido, who was out because of foot injury.
After yesterday’s double-header the UAAP takes a brief break to give way to the All Soul’s holiday.
League action resumes on Nov. 3. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo