It ain’t over until it’s over.
Facing elimination the University of San Tomas Growling Tigers got a big lift from Kevin Ferrer who virtually lifted his team on his shoulders to beat the Far Eastern University Tamaraws, 62-56, and tie the best-of-three championship series in the UAAP Season 78 Finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Tigers, behind 21-30 at the half and facing a sweep in the best-of-three series, came to life after Ferrer hit six three-pointers in a legendary 24-point third-quarter in front of a crowd of 22,000 fans at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The talented forward finished with 29 points and had two big rebounds in the endgame as he helped the Tigers go on to victory. The title series, the first one in 36 years between two multi-titled teams, goes to a sudden-death game on Wednesday, Dec. 2 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Ferrer shot 9-of-18 from the field and converted a crucial layup which pushed the Growling Tigers ahead 47-37.
FEU wasn’t done yet as they engineered a 13-0 run in the fourth which gave the Tamaraws a 54-50 advantage.
But the Growling Tigers would nit be denied. Louie Vigil pushed UST ahead, 55-54, and Karim Abdul scored two free throws as the Tigers entered the final two minutes holding a 57-54 advantage.
“Nawala ‘yung enjoyment sa game. Sabi ko sa kanila, smile tayo sa game at i-enjoy natin At the same time, kailangan natin dumepensa at mag-enjoy sa depensa. Nasunod ‘yung game plan,” said UST coach Bong Dela Cruz as he explained his team’s Game 1 loss and Game 2 victory.
Additionally, Ferrer grabbed 10 rebounds in a double-double effort for the Tigers. Abdul had 11 points and six rebounds despite committing three fouls right in the first period. Ed Daquioag, who struggled in Game 1, atoned with 10 points.
For FEU Mac Belo had 16 points and 11 rebounds. Roger Pogoy had 12 points but left the game midway through the fourth quarter due to cramps. Mike Tolomia struggled and finished with just seven points.
UST 62 — Ferrer 29, Abdul 11, Daquioag 10, Vigil 5, Bonleon 3, Lao 2, Lee 2, Faundo 0, Huang 0, Sheriff 0.
FEU 56 — Belo 16, Pogoy 12, Jose 9, Tolomia 7, Inigo 5, Orizu 3, Tamsi 2, Dennison 2, Ru. Escoto 0, Arong 0, Ri. Escoto 0, Trinidad 0.
Quarter scores: 13-20, 21-30, 47-41, 62-56.