By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE University of the East Red Warriors are out to sustain their fighting form of late when they take on the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers in UAAP Season 82 men’s basketball action today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Opened their campaign in the ongoing University Athletic Association of the Philippines season with three straight losses, the Warriors (3-5) have picked things up since, winning three of five games, including their last two, something they hope to extend in their 12:30 p.m. matchup with UST.
UE recently defeated the Adamson Soaring Falcons, 80-74, in a game that saw it raise its game in the second half to outlast its opponent.
Foreign player Alex Diakhite and one-and-done Rey Suerte formed a potent 1-2 punch for the Warriors in the victory.
Diakhite unloaded a career-high 29 points to go along with 13 rebounds, three assists, and two blocks.
Suerte, meanwhile, tallied 26 points, seven boards, and three assists for his team, which incidentally tied Adamson (3-5) at sixth place in the race with the victory.
“We got lucky today. We got breaks and the players refused to lose. We know that Adamson has a good team with a legendary coach. We beat them with effort,” said UE active consultant Lawrence Chongson after the game as he talked about their performance.
Looking to halt UE’s surge are the Tigers who have slowed down after a fiery start to their campaign.
UST has lost back to back, the most recent at the hands of the defending champions Ateneo Blue Eagles, 66-52, on Oct. 5.
The Tigers were kept at bay by the Eagles throughout the contest, a contrast from their first encounter in the opening round where they made the reigning champions sweat and on their toes from start to finish.
Rookie Mark Nonoy top-scored for UST with 18 points but after him no other Tiger scored in double digits, including leading most valuable player candidate Soulemane Chabi Yo, who was held to just six points on two-of-11 shooting.
Also playing today are the Far Eastern University Tamaraws (4-4) against the National University Bulldogs (1-7) at 10:30 a.m. and Ateneo (8-0) versus Adamson at 4 p.m.
20-20 GUY BALTAZAR IS POW
Meanwhile, De La Salle University big man Justine Baltazar was hands down voted as the UAAP player of the week after dropping the first 20-20 game in the league in more than a decade.
The veteran Baltazar had 25 points and 25 rebounds in their dominant win over NU on Oct. 6.
The last player to achieve such feat was Jervy Cruz of UST who had 28 points and 20 rebounds in August 2008.
In winning the weekly award handed out by media covering the league, Baltazar topped Ken Tuffin of FEU, UE’s Diakhite and Thirdy Ravena of Ateneo.