A win, despite of all the injury scare the UST Growling Tigers had to go through, is such a relief to the España community. Another loss would have virtually eliminated the Tigers in the race for the top four spot. The 80-67 win by the Tigers stretched the losing streak of the Adamson Soaring Falcons to six, and pushed the struggling team out of final four contention.
Health issues continue to bother the Tigers as Kim Lo and Karim Abdul join the list of UST’s injured players. Luckily, they were able to re-enter the game, help the Tigers secure the victory and snap their three-game losing streak. On the other hand, Jeric Teng did not suit up for this game in order to rest his right hamstring. He suffered severe cramping in his hamstring during the game against the NU Bulldogs.
Even with the injury woes, the Tigers managed to maintain a one to two possession lead over the Falcons in the early going of the final period. They even posted an 8-0 run highlighted by a three-point conversion of Eduardo Daquioag to erect an 11-point margin with 4:48 remaining in the game. Jericho Cruz then threaded seven straight points and Celedonio Trollano joined the rally by sinking in a contested three-point shot. This capped a 10-4 run by the Falcons to cut the lead down to a manageable five points, 65-70 with 2:06 left. Unfortunately, it proved to be the last ammunition of the Falcons as Aljon Mariano and Abdul took over and sealed the game by draining back-to-back two-point and free throws conversions.
Review of the Keys of the Game
Protect the Ball
Remember UST Tigers’ strong third quarter comeback during their round 1 encounter with Adamson? The Tigers were trailing by eight points at the end of the first half but by the end of third period they were in the driver’s seat enjoying a four point advantage. What happened in that quarter? UST forced a lot of TOs from the Adamson and turned the momentum into the Tigers’ favor and never looked back.
With that in mind I honestly think that Adamson will make their adjustment and will have a cautious effort to protect their possession. Luckily, they didn’t. UST were still able to force Adamson to commit 20 turnovers, with three of their main guys responsible for more than half of it. Jericho Cruz, Ingrid Sewa, and Ryan Monteclaro combined for 13 turnovers, which is equivalent to the 13 team turnovers of the Tigers. Cruz’ turnovers alone is almost half of UST’s total. Adamson’s skipper was forced to throw the ball six times. While Sewa and Monteclaro chipped in four and four turnovers each. This only shows that UST was successful in pressuring Adamson while still doing their job of protecting their possessions.
Finally, UST was able to put up an above average eFG of 46.0% (the league norm is at 42.6%). The primary reason for this improvement is that among the eight players who attempted a shot inside the rainbow arc, only two of them have an FG% below 40% and the rest of the guys have an average FG% of 71.7%. With three of the players perfect from the field, namely, Daquioag (4/4), Kim Lo (3/3), and Hainga (1/1) – it was definitely a good shooting night for the Tigers. Although their three-point shooting still needs to improve, especially those of Kevin Ferrer who attempted four times from beyond the arc but failed to knock down even a single shot.
After giving up 20+ fast break points in their previous match against NU and Ateneo, it was expected that both UST and Adamson will be cautious enough not to repeat what they’ve been doing wrong. True enough, neither team allowed 20+ fast break points again, but the Tigers showed extreme improvement in their transition defense as they only allowed 2 fast break points to the Falcons. Plus, they were able to squeeze in 12 fast break points for their cause.
Overall, UST covered the three key points to score a victory over Adamson. In the absence of Teng and with the offensive struggles of Ferrer, it is good to see Daquioag and Lo stepping up and rising to the challenge. With a bunch of health issues in UST’s roster, everybody needs to step up and help each other. Hopefully, Lo and Abdul’s injuries are not that serious.