The UST Growling Tigers displayed total domination against the UP Fighting Maroons to register their third straight victory and keep themselves in the run for a Top Four spot. This win also extended the Tigers’ mastery over the Fighting Maroons to 14 straight games which equates to seven long seasons.

Just like the previous games of the Fighting Maroons, they were able to keep in step with their opponents for the first two or three-quarters but found themselves lost or out of gas in the final period. This time around UP was able to put up a fight until UST implemented a full court defense in the final period to seal the game off.

The Tigers started slow and with low energy. They were missing a lot of shots and allowed the Fighting Maroons to have a bunch of open looks. Fortunately, UP also had a bad shooting day. In fact, UP had the lowest percentage shooting in a UAAP Game at 18.5 percent. Come the payoff period, the Tigers picked up their slack by tightening up their defense and running every time they had the chance. This resulted in a 10-0 fast break point and  4-0 turnover point advantage against UP to cap a 23-6 quarter score massacre.

Reviewing Keys of the Game

No Rebounds – No Rings (Pat Riley)

A HUGE check mark for the Tigers on this key point. And why not? They registered a whopping 30 rebound advantage over the Fighting Maroons. With the Fighting Maroons missing shot after shot, the Tigers took advantage of the situation and corralled 51 defensive rebounds out of the possible 66 to keep themselves in full control of this game. These defensive rebounds not only limited the offensive rebounding opportunities and second chance point for the Fighting Maroons but it also catapulted the 20-4 fast break points advantage of the Tigers.

Paolo Pe skying high for a Rebound (Photo Credit: Nazzi Castro, Varsitarian.net

Paolo Pe sky high for a Rebound (Photo Credit: Nazzi Castro, Varsitarian.net

Offense sells tickets; Defense wins championships (Paul Bryant Jr.)

Although UST was able to limit the Fighting Maroons to only 39 points, It still felt like they could have done a better job on defense especially in the first three quarters. I’m not being too hard to please here. It’s just that I didn’t see the defensive effort that I know the Tigers are capable off. If not for the off shooting of UP, the ending could have been different. Good thing the Tigers were able to notch up their defense in the final period to end the game on a high note. Hopefully, they’ll bring this kind of effort and intensity in their last two games.

Marata bleeds for his points against UST Defense (Photo Credit: KC Cruz, GMA Network)

Marata bleeds for his points against UST Defense (Photo Credit: KC Cruz, GMA Network)

Basketball is a Team Sports

Another check mark for the Tigers. UST was able to dish out 15 assists that allowed them to score a bunch of easy baskets. Those backdoor plays and cuts in the middle of the paint are such a beauty to watch. With Raul Soyud pre-occupied in manning Karim Abdul, Aljon Mariano often found himself open inside the paint to the delight of the UST guards feeding him with crisps passes.

While UST was extending their efforts to set up their teammates, the Fighting Maroons kept on settling for one-on-one plays that either resulted in a miss or a turnover. Their below average eight assists signifies how poorly they moved the ball.

Final Thoughts

Aside from the subpar performance of the Tigers in the first three-quarters, there were a lot of positives in this game. First off, Jeric Teng was able to get his groove back. He was given the green light to shoot. Though he didn’t shoot well, this is a good way to prepare him for the next two important games. Second, as mentioned the Tigers were able to end the game on a high note. Limiting the Maroons to only six points and scoring 23 in the final period gave the Tigers some momentum  that they’ll need for this final stretch. Most importantly, this victory keeps them in contention for the Final Four.