UST Growling Tigers def. UP Fighting Maroons, 89-69
Rhenz Abando, UST (17 points, 3/6 3FG, 7 rebounds, 1 steal, 3 blocks)
UST’s most beloved player did everything for the Growling Tigers, and he did it coming off the bench. The efficiency of Abando in this game was outstanding, getting a +21 net rating.
Soulemane Chabi Yo, UST (17 points, 7/9 FG, 15 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 steals)
Chabi Yo had a quiet 17 point outing. One moment he has four points, next thing you know, he is now leading all scorers. It is his rebounding however that made all the difference for UST. The MVP limited UP’s shooters to one attempt per possession.
Juan Gomez de Liaño, UP (20 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals)
This is the Juan GDL that people love. He was aggressive in attacking the defense, and shooting threes. He was also a perfect foil to Mark Nonoy, being athletic enough to keep in step with him.
Bright Akhuetie, UP (19 points, 6/10 FG, 18 rebounds, 8 turnovers)
Bright Akhuetie remains to be the anchor of the UP Fighting Maroons, so much so that he was used extensively in this game. He carried the team on his back until Juan helped him. His eight turnovers are forgivable considering the amount of work he did.
- UP must have watched every pre-game prediction video available because their strategy relied heavily on slowing the game down. While their defense was deadly in some spells of the game, they were still rushing on offense.
- UST’s shots were actually not falling early on, despite getting good looks. They built and sustained the lead by defending well. UP did not have a lot of good looks, and were limited to chucking ill-advised shots.
- UST showed that they are more than a three point shooting team. They had a lot of success dumping the ball down low, or slashing to the basket. They are anything than one-dimensional. What’s more, they are gaining a lot of momentum with every win.
- Let’s not sugar-coat it anymore: UP needs to play better. UP has a multitude of former blue chip recruits, an MVP FSA, and a game-changing talent in Kobe Paras. They have the tools to succeed, but they cannot simply out-talent or out-PUSO well-prepared teams like UST and Ateneo down the line. They have to adjust and play together.