By SHAYNE LEE MACARAEG and PRINCE RONSON SABADO
The UST Growling Tigers kicked off UAAP Season 85 with a convincing victory over host Adamson Soaring Falcons in the men’s basketball opener, 69-60.
The Growling Tigers’ win was led by forward Nic Cabañero, delivering a career-high 33 points in an efficient 13/18 shooting, with four assists and two rebounds on Saturday, Oct. 1 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
It was the first time in four years that a single player scored at least 30 points to secure a win, the last time being UST point guard Marvin Lee’s 30-point explosion over the University of the East Red Warriors in 2018.
UST trailed behind Adamson in the first minutes of the game, with Soaring Falcons’ Joshua Yerro, Jerom Lastimosa, and Vince Magbuhos leading the host team at 8-5.
But the Growling Tigers made sure to contend these forces as Cabañero, Pangilinan, and Manaytay sustained the lead of the pack, walloping the strength of the Soaring Falcons at the end of the first quarter, 23-18.
Cabañero’s aggressive offense in the first half carried the Growling Tigers with a 17-point blast, maintaining UST’s lead at the end of the second quarter, 48-44.
The energizing first half became a slugfest as they got out from their respective dugouts, as both teams struggled to score. The quarter ended with both teams only managing to score, 6-6.
The Thomasian sophomore hit a nasty step-back three as he was taking over in the fourth quarter. However, the Soaring Falcons were not easy to put down as they forced a couple of 24-shot clock violations to cool down the roaring UST offense.
The Soaring Falcons’ Jerom Lastimosa managed to score a quiet 10 points, along with a trifecta to cut the UST lead to three late in the fourth quarter, which was then answered back by Cabañero with an MJ-like midranger as he shrugged back on defense.
First game jitters were visible for both teams as UST committed 25 sloppy turnovers with 18 fouls, and AdU had 23 turnovers with careless 26 fouls.
Christian Manaytay was the second leading scorer for the Growling Tigers with 7 points, as Adama Faye and Miguel Pangilinan scored 6 points each.
Lenda Duoanga and Joshua Yerro had 13 apiece, Didat Hanapi and Lastimosa had 10 points each for the Soaring Falcons.
With a 1-0 record, the revamped Growling Tigers will attempt to keep its clean record as it faces the De La Salle University Green Archers on Oct. 5 at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.
The University is currently on a victory roll as both the Growling Tigers and the Growling Tigresses were able to secure their respective wins against Adamson’s men’s and women’s basketball teams. F