By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
GOT their University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 82 campaign to a winning start, the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers look to build on it and continue rolling with a team that they are high on being able to get it done.
Defeated the University of the East Red Warriors, 95-82, on opening day on Wednesday, UST said the win was a huge boost for the team as it embarks on another run in the UAAP where it is angling to continue to improve as a group and wind up with a better finish than last year.
“It feels good to win your first game because it gives you confidence, boosts your morale, especially if you have nine newcomers. With a lot of new players in the team you want their game to come out right way to set the tone,” said UST coach Aldin Ayo, whose wards finished sixth in Season 81 with a 5-9 record.
“I’m very grateful that in our very first game of the season the game of the players came out. We have nine newcomers this year. Hopefully we get to keep our focus to reach the objective we have set for this season,” he added.
Among the newcomers for the Tigers is forward Rhenz Abando.
Abando did not waste much time in introducing himself in the UAAP, leading his team to the impressive victory over UE.
The Pangasinense rookie, who transferred from Philippine College of Science and Technology, immediately made his presence felt for the Growling Tigers he made his way to 22 points on top of his four rebounds, three assists, and two steals.
Beninese high-flyer Soulemane Chabi Yo also impressed in his UST debut with his double-double outing of 19 points, 12 rebounds, and one block, while Brent Paraiso and Sherwin Concepcion combined for 20 points.
The Tigers took control of the game early and never relinquished it the rest of the way.
Mr. Ayo said it is still early in the season and they expect the competition to get even tighter.
But he expressed his team’s readiness to take on the challenge with the rest of the team learning along the way.
Next for UST is a match-up with fellow opening-day winners University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons (1-0) on Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Also playing on said date are the Adamson Soaring Falcons (0-1) and National University Bulldogs at 2 p.m.
Meanwhile, on Sunday, Sept. 8, games will see UE (0-1) against the Far Eastern University Tamaraws (0-1) at 12 noon and the marquee match between rivals Ateneo Blue Eagles (1-0) and De La Salle Green Archers at 4 p.m. Venue is also at the Big Dome.