by SHAYNE LEE MACARAEG and PRINCE RONSON SABADO
THE UST Growling Tigers succumbed to their sixth defeat served by the UP Fighting Maroons, 76-51, in the first round of the UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball tournament.
UST is at the bottom of the standings with a 1-6 record, with their only win coming from the season opener against Adamson University.
Tigers’ Nic Cabañero pushed an early fourth-quarter comeback by scoring 10 consecutive points that cut UP’s lead to 11, but it was not enough to stop the Maroons’ game plan as they sent double teams to stop Cabanero’s heroic attempts on Saturday, Oct. 22 at the Ynares Center.
Carl Tamayo, who only logged nine minutes and 24 seconds, scored back-to-back baskets to bring back the lead to a 21-point cushion taking the game out of reach as the Fighting Maroons boss over the Growling Tigers from the start.
Right from the tip, UP went out to play as Gerry Abadiano scored all of his nine points in the opening quarter. UST’s first field goal came from an and-1 from Adame Faye at the 3:14 mark. UP led the first quarter, 19-8.
After a poster from Faye, James Spencer and Zavier Lucero hit one three-pointer each to keep the momentum from shifting, as both teams traded buckets. But UP kept a double-digit lead at halftime, 38-24, after Daylan Andrews cleared the lane for a deuce.
Fighting Maroons guard Terrence Fortea heated up from the perimeter scoring 11 of his 14 points to balloon UP’s lead to 21 points, as the third quarter ended with UP’s dominance at 58-37.
Only two players from UST scored above five points: Faye had 15 points, 13 rebounds, with two blocks, and Cabanero scored 14 points, hitting 35% from the field.
Lucero stuffed the stat sheet by adding 12 points, five rebounds, four assists, five steals, and three blocks with Tamayo and Andrews adding 9 points each for UP.
In a press interview, Growling Tigers head coach Bal David admitted that the team is “down” after its six consecutive losses, citing that they have to “learn and bounce back” as they prepare for their succeeding matches.
“After our loss to La Salle […] we’re trying to regroup but we failed, so it’s our fault that we were not able to regroup,” David said.
The head coach told the Tigers’ supporters to leave “negative comments” to the coaches as the team enters “fresh again” in the second leg of the tournament.
The second round of UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball will begin on Oct. 26. F