By Ivan Stewart Saldajeno
MANILA — University of Santo Tomas (UST) lived to fight another day in the semi-finals of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men’s basketball stepladder playoffs after blasting University of the Philippines (UP), 89-69, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on Sunday night.
Despite the twice-to-beat disadvantage, the Growling Tigers, entering the playoffs as the fourth seed, played as if they are the team to beat as second seed and not UP.
Thanks to its stifling defense, UST held UP to just 24 first half points as it opened a 17-point lead at halftime.
The Maroons finally got their offense going in the third quarter, cutting the lead down to 10, but the Tigers remained afloat and brought a 60-47 advantage to the final period.
UP still had one final dash, cutting the lead down to just nine, 72-63, with 3:14 left in the game, but a 13-2 blast sealed the deal for UST.
Rhenz Abando and Chabi Yo each scored 17 points for the Growling Tigers, which forced a sudden-death showdown with the Fighting Maroons on Wednesday night at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
Juan Gomez De Liano put up 20 markers, two rebounds, two steals, and one block for UP.
UST 89 — Abando 17, Chabi Yo 17, Nonoy 16, Concepcion 12, Cansino 11, Subido 8, Ando 4, Huang 2, Paraiso 2, Bataller 0.
UP 69 — Ju. Gomez de Liano 20, Akhuetie 19, Rivero 12, Paras 9, Webb 4, Ja. Gomez de Liano 3, Tungcab 2, Jaboneta 0, Mantilla 0, Manzo 0, Murrell 0, Prado 0, Spencer 0.
Quarters: 19-13, 41-24, 60-47, 89-69. (PNA)