In the absence of the injured UST Growling Tigers’ team captain – Jeric Teng, the M.A.D. Tigers stormed the MOA Arena to feast on the troubled UE Warriors. Aljon Mariano, Kareem Abdul, and Eduardo Daquioag (Mariano Abdul Daquioag – M.A.D., as coined by UST Community) registered their individual career best point production output by scoring 24, 25 and 19 points respectively, to lift the Tigers to a 88-77 victory over the slumping Warriors.

The opening salvo was dictated by UST’s swarming defense as they held UE to a four and half minutes scoring drought to post a 6-0 edge.  However, UE’s five three-point conversions during the first half, helped to spread the floor and allowed the Warriors to comeback without the scoring prowess of their main man Roi Sumang. At the end of the first half both teams nullified each other’s production to post a 34 deadlock.

Kareem Abdul a force to reckon inside the paint, be it in offense or defense side. (Photo Credit: KC Cruz, GMA Network)

Kareem Abdul a force to reckon inside the paint, be it in offense or defense side. (Photo Credit: KC Cruz, GMA Network)

Sumang picked up his slack and threatened to own the third quarter by delivering five unanswered points to start the second half. Unfortunately, the M.A.D. Tigers started to impose their presence as Mariano and Abdul capitalized on the absence of Charles Mammie, who was out to serve a one game suspension due to two unsportsmanlike fouls he committed prior to the game, by furiously attacking the paint while Daquiaog provided the outside threat. The three Tigers outscored the whole UE Warriors by combining a total of 24 points versus the 22 points that the UE team registered to take a 63-56 lead at the end of the third period.

Come the final frame, Sumang again lead the Warriors by delivering back-to-back triples and a coast-to-coast drive to the basket for a personal 8-0 run that would cut the UST lead by 1, 67-66. Daquiaog would shoulder the scoring load for the Tigers by sinking a floater and a couple of free throws to exchange leads with the Warriors. With 3:22 left, the game was tied at 74. Once again, the Tigers clamped down on defense and held the Warriors scoreless for the next three minutes while Mariano, Abdul, Daquiaog and Kevin Ferrer scored a 10-0 run to finally pull away from the Warriors, 84-74. Under 30 seconds left, Dan Irvin Alberto sank a desperate 3-pt shot to inch closer with the Tigers, but Daquiaog and Mariano converted another field goal to seal the win at 88-77.

Eduard Daquiaog draws a foul from Roi Sumang on a fast break attempt (Photo Credit: George Calvelo, Yahoo Sports)

Eduard Daquiaog draws a foul from Roi Sumang on a fast break attempt (Photo Credit: George Calvelo, Yahoo Sports)

Reviewing Keys of the Game

Revive Season 75 Numbers

Oh boy, Abdul and Mariano responded big time! They both showcased a double-double performance and surpassed their career highs to shoulder more than half of the Tigers points and rebounds production (55.7% of 88 points and 55.6% of45 rebounds). Aside from points and rebounds they even provided a combined seven assists and four steals, a total all-around game indeed. Add to this, Daquiaog came up with big numbers as well to cover for Ferrer’s subpar performance. Daquiaog tallied 19 points, tallying his career high as well, and led the team with six assists. I guess it is pretty hard to beat a team who has three players banking in their career bests in a single game at that.

After a slump, Abdul and Mariano responded with double-double performaces.

After a slump, Abdul and Mariano responded with double-double performances.

Pressure Sumang

Even if Sumang was able to score 21 points, I commend the Tigers for their gallant effort to limit and tire out EU’s star player. The Tigers were able to control Sumang in the first half by limiting him to a single point. He exploded in the third and at the start of the fourth period but fatigue comes into play as he requested to be sub out of the game while the Warriors were making a run. Without Sumang on the floor UE’s momentum ended. Upon his return, UST was then starting to post its own run to finally end the game.

Welcome Perimeter Shots

Warriors actually didn’t fall in love with their perimeter shots. With their 3-pt shooting working to their advantage, UST’s defense opened up and allowed the Warriors to produce from the inside. Unfortunately, even their inside attempts were missing, as they tallied a total of 82 attempts from all over the floor but were only able to hit 30, giving them a 36.1% field goal shooting as compared to 42.2% for UST.

Looking Forward

This is a big win for the UST Growling Tigers. It does not only give them the solo second position in the team standing but also gave them a momentum and a moral boost coming in for their clash against the undefeated FEU Tamaraws. UST will have to again rely on the mastery of Abdul and Mariano in the paint as it was evident in the Tamaraw’s game against the Archers that FEU lacks a formidable inside presence.