The Games that Play Us: Flash & Magic

Kevin Ferrer relinquished his starting slot
in UST's defeat of the Maroons.
(image by Justin de Jesus/

UST Growling Tigers over the UP Fighting Maroons, 68-49

It took UST all of 20 minutes to make us all believe that UP’s win over FEU several days prior was a fluke.

UP, after all, played splendidly against last year’s losing finalists. The Maroons shot well from the field and distributed the ball really well. They got out on the break and finished with impunity. They found open shots that were drilled consistently.

But the flash and magic that permeated UP’s big Thursday win was absent yesterday. Absent, at least, on their side of the court.

It seemed like that aforementioned magic found new wielders in the UST Growling Tigers. Here was a team that was coming off a 3-game losing spell. After going on a quick 2-win start to the season, coach Pido Jarencio found himself mired in a slump after deflating losses to Adamson, FEU, and Ateneo. UP was on the up and up, and UST was sinking in mid-season quicksand.

All indications pointed to another Tiger defeat, but the complete opposite happened.

The Tigers were steady from start to finish, making their shots, getting good assists and playing their usual run-and-gun game to an effective degree.

It’s not really that UST played so well, but more of UP playing absolutely awful. That’s not to take anything away from UST, though. The Black & Gold defense gave the Maroons fits and limited UP’s fearsome foursome of Mike Silungan, Mike Gamboa, Jett Manuel & Jelo Montecastro to just 26 points – a big drop from their combined 53-point output against FEU. And just like in the Ateneo game, nobody finished in double figures for UP. They were back to their usual self-destructive ways.

Jett Manuel had one of his worst nights against UST.
(image by Justin de Jesus/
So bad was UP that they shot just 29% from the field, 8% from three and 59% from the line. They were outrebounded by 25 and had less than half of UST’s assists total — just absolutely horrendous. The UP five that beat FEU last Thursday? They sure as hell didn’t show up, and probably won’t for a long time.

UST, meanwhile, finally got something going. Moving Kevin Ferrer to the bench was an unexpected genius stroke for coach Jarencio. It was the shake-up the Tigers needed to turn things around. Melo Afuang did well as a starter in complement to Chris Camus and Jeric Fortuna, while Ferrer paired up with Karim Abdul to anchor a ferocious bench mob that outplayed their Diliman counterparts.

Karim Abdul was a force underneath for the Tigers.
(image by Justin de Jesus/
UST will take the momentum from this win to their important match against DLSU on Thursday – a match that will decide who gets fourth place after the first round. DLSU is coming off a loss to the Falcons, so UST’s confidence going into that game will be a big lift. UP, on the other hand, could’ve had a perfect week against quality opponents. A win here could’ve given them that much-needed boost against Adamson on Thursday, but they find themselves looking for answers yet again.

UST 68 – Fortuna 16, Afuang 13, Abdul 8, Camus 8, Teng 7, Ferrer 5, Sheriff 5, Lo 4, Pe 2, Lao 0, Tan 0, Vigil 0
UP 49 – Montecastro 9, Silungan 8, Mbah 7, Maniego 6, Manuel 5, Gamboa 4, Romero 4, Gomez 2, Fortu 2, Wong 2, Juruena 0, Pascual 0
QS: 16-12, 25-17, 45-29, 68-49

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