UST Growling Tigers def. UP Fighting Maroons 86-72

NOTABLE PLAYERS

CJ Cansino, UST (16 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals)
Cansino continues to impress as he led the charge doing almost everything from scoring to hustling for loose rebounds. With numbers like these, it’s hard to believe that he’s fresh out of high school. His rebounding prowess was present as always but he showed a different style of attack through his sniping and playmaking. He showed a little bit of everything in this game and showed why he is almost a lock for that Rookie of the Year award.
Zach Huang, UST (9 points, 13 rebounds)
Arguably one of the more underrated 4s in the league; Huang’s motor was integral to UST’s hot start and eventual win. He may not be the tallest or lengthiest of big men but he repeatedly beat UP to the boards on just pure hustle and good positioning. Though he didn’t shoot well from the field, he also displayed some surprising one-on-one ability as he repeatedly took his defender of the dribble.
Diego Dario, UP (11 minutes, 10 points)
Averaging just 8 minutes and 1.8 points per game, Dario helped UP fight back and threaten UST in a fourth quarter rally that eventually fell short. He reached double digits for the first time this season while knocking down two triples. Maybe this gives him the confidence to be that much-needed spark off the bench for a team that badly needs it. In the process, he might be able to salvage his less-than-stellar career in the seniors’ division.

QUICK ANALYSIS

  • It may be an overused sports cliche, but the game all boiled down to UST wanting it more. From the opening tip, they were active and aggressive. They moved with a purpose. UP on the other hand looked sluggish and the effort was lackadaisical. No stat showed that better than the rebounding as the Growling Tigers were able to rebound 43% of their own misses and 71% of the Fighting Maroons’. They also outscored the Katipunan squad 18-4 on second-chance points. You could some up the whole game like this: UST miss, UST offensive rebound, UST made three-pointer, rinse and repeat.
  • Both teams employed full-court pressure for a big chunk of the game but UST clearly executed much better. They didn’t force a lot of turnovers but they delayed UP enough to make it hard for them to set up a good halfcourt set. On the other hand, the Fighting Maroons were, for lack of a better term, pretty lazy with theirs with the Tigers continually breaking it and getting free for easy layups. That’s actually how they built a double-digit lead in the first place.
  • Speaking of defense, UST defended Bright Akhuetie extremely well. He still got his numbers on a good percentage (18 points on 9/16 FGs), but the bigs really made it hell for him. Enrique Caunan and rookie Germy Mahinay in particular did a fantastic job bodying him up and holding their ground. The double/triple teams were also on point with how they’d always force Akhuetie into tough scoring positions. He probably had only one or two clean catches the whole game. It definitely took its toll on the big man as he was barely able to jump or run by the second half.
  • For UP, it’s definitely concerning how they treated this game. As I mentioned earlier, the body language from the opening tip wasn’t good. It only got worse as UST built their huge lead. It’s concerning because it looked like they underestimated the Growling Tigers even though they were 6th and 7th in the standings respectively. I don’t think they’ve proven anything to think they can just flip the switch so to speak (though they almost did in the last period). They’re gonna need to get rid of that mentality if they want a chance to sneak in to the Final Four.