UST Growling Tigers 88 – UE Red Warriors 85
The UST Growling Tigers made sure that they wouldn’t spoil their final chance at a win this season. They played a complete game against the UE Red Warriors to close out Season 80 on a high note to avoid an infamous 0-14 record.
UST jumped out to an early lead, as they stifled the UE Red Warriors on defense and got out to running on offense. Steve Akomo scored on repeated highlight plays on the break as the Growling Tigers led by as much as 14 points, 23-9. The Red Warriors cut down the UST lead in the following quarters behind their main gun Alvin Pasaol. But they also got surprise contributions from Paul Varilla, Rey Acuno and Mark Maloles. UE came back from nine points down to start the third quarter and got to within one point, 77-76.
Usually, at that point, the Growling Tigers would fold. But not in this game. Marvin Lee scored on a drive to the hoop and a bank shot while Regie Basibas was cool from the line. They put the lead back up to five, 84-79. UE pulled to tie the game at 85 but the Growling Tigers were steady from the line. The Red Warrior still had a chance to win the game but UST got the final defensive stop to preserve their first win of the season.
DLSU Green Archers 79 – ADMU Blue Eagles 76
There was no way the La Salle Green Archers would allow the Ateneo Blue Eagles safe passage to the Finals without a fight. La Salle completed a stunning comeback in the final minutes of the game to upset the undefeated Blue Eagles and force a Final Four scenario.
La Salle displayed the heart of a champion as they repeatedly pulled close whenever the Blue Eagles would threaten to pull away. Ateneo held a seven-point lead with less than two and a half minutes left in the game when the Green Archers went to work. They suffocated Ateneo with a blitzing, double-teaming defense led by Abu Tratter. Ben Mbala made the Blue Eagles pay with big baskets on the other end to pull to within one point going into the final minute of the game. With Mbala doing the heavy lifting the entire game, the other Green Archers stepped up in crunch time.
Kib Montalbo seeing that the smaller Anton Asistio was on him, drove hard to the free throw line, spun and hit a big floater to put the Green Archers up over the Blue Eagles. Ateneo then failed to execute a well-designed play that had Isaac Go momentarily free for a basket before Mbala recovered to bother the shot. Ricci Rivero was fouled grabbing the board and he cooly sank two free throws to give La Salle a three-point lead. Rivero closed out the game with a block on Asistio’s game-tying three-point attempt. La Salle beat Ateneo and prevented a 14-0 sweep.