Tigers win on the court but lose protest

Teng sizzles with career-high

University of Santo Tomas failed to get a favorable result in its off-the-court battle but the Growling Tigers got the job done inside the MOA Arena Thursday.

With gunner Jeric Teng showing the way, UST unleashed a telling 16-2 rampage midway in the fourth to turn back University of the East 87-75 and formally nail its Final Four spot in the UAAP Season 75 men’s basketball action.

“One of the team’s aces” according to coach Pido Jarencio, Teng drilled in 15 of his career-best 26 points in the fourth quarter and sparked the Tigers’ breakaway from a precarious 60-57 cushion, leading to the lopsided win–their 10th win against four defeats–while seizing solo second ahead of idle Far Eastern University (9-4).

“At least umabot ng ten wins,” stated Jarencio, who is bidding to steer the Tigers to the Promised Land for the first time since their glorious run in 2006. “I think best finish ‘to ng team mula mula ng hawakan ko. Ibig sabihin, pwede kami hanggang dulo. Ang chamba marami. Hindi nauubos ‘yan.”

Cameroon import Karim Abdul, one of the leading MVP candidates, collected 22 points and nine boards while Aljon Mariano and Kevin Ferrer, who both came off the bench, added 15 apiece for the Tigers, who also gained at least a playoff for the remaining twice-to-beat incentive in the semis.

 “Ginawa lang talaga namin ‘yun part namin,” stated Teng, who also seven boards and three steals. “Thankful ako sa mga teammates ko because they were looking for me.”

“Talagang dumarating sa players ‘yan. Hindi na ako nagulat. Isa siya sa mga alas sa team. Talagang its Jeric’s time,” added Jarencio.

Shifty guard Roi Sumang scattered 22 points and seven assists while Jhon Rey Sumido contributed 19 and Adrian Santos had a double-double outing of 16 points and 14 rebounds for the also-ran Red Warriors, who dropped to 3-11, missing the Final Four for the third straight time.

Apparently bothered by the venue’s freezing air-conditioning, the Tigers got off to a slow start, scoring just 32 in a low-scoring first half, but fully got their bearings back in the final 20 minutes, with Teng taking charge.

“Actually kaya kami nag bad start, first quarter and ‘yung next four minutes, napakalamig sa court. Nu’ng pina-press ko, nakuha na namin ‘yung timing at bearings. Yung Petron diesel uminit na,” noted Jarencio, whose charges sizzled with 55 points in the second half, 32 coming in the payoff period.

After Sumang pulled UE within 57-60, UST went on a big roll, frequently going to the free throw line against the foul-prone Red Warriors as the Tigers drained eight bonus shots during the telling 16-2 breakaway for a 76-59 spread with still 4:29 left.

Meanwhile, the UAAP Board upheld the decision of commissioner Ato Badolato and, in the process, threw out the protest of UST seeking to nullify Ateneo’s 68-66 win last Sunday.

Accompanied by La Salle’s Henry Atayde, a member of the Technical Committee, Junel Baculi read the official statement addressed to Hilda Paz Camus of UST, saying: “After careful review and deliberation, the Technical Committee has decided to uphold the decision of the commissioner, thereby your protest is denied.”

“The Technical Committee agrees with the commissioner that the points you have raised are both judgment calls and not subject to protest. It was pointed out during the course of the discussion that although the call and non-calls are technical in nature, implementing these requires judgment.”

UST, however, can still appeal its protest to the UAAP Board of Trustees.

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