The new-look UST Growling Tigers caught a big fish as their first win of the season.
Cellar-dwellers the past two seasons, the Tigers showed determination and potential by taking down a potential Final Four contender in the FEU Tamaraws, 76-74, on Wednesday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Renzo Subido led the way with 18 points on 6-for-17 shooting while fellow guard Marvin Lee added 13 points. UST's backcourt had a forgettable outing in their first game as they shot a combined 8-for-43 in a loss against the NU Bulldogs. They bounced back in a big way versus the defense of the Tamaraws.
"We are a very young team. Our team is composed of nine rookies and we only have one senior. Our rookies are still adjusting," Aldin Ayo said. "We have rookies for whom it was their first time to enter Araneta or MOA (Arena). That's big because they're not used to playing in those venues. Good thing that their play came out."
Despite the youth and growing pains of a new system, the Tigers showed a better finishing kick than the battle-tested Tamaraws. UST was clinging to just a one-point lead with two minutes remaining but Germy Mahinay was able to hit a basket to push the lead to three, 74-71.
The Tamaraws went to Prince Orizu who already had 25 points and 15 rebounds to his name, but the big man was called for an offensive foul. The Tigers once again displayed their resiliency in their next offensive possession. Mahinay missed his shot but rookie CJ Cansino was there for the offensive rebound.
Kenneth Zamora then delivered the play of the game after a strong drive to the basket with 18.5 seconds left to extend the lead to five points, 76-71.
FEU tried one last rally as Hubert Cani converted on his three-pointer with 10.5 seconds remaining. The Tamaraws also forced a turnover on the Tigers and had one last chance but Arvin Tolentino missed on his last-second three-point attempt.
After the hard-fought win, UST's first over FEU since Game 2 of the Season 78 Finals, Ayo was visibly emotional in the post game.
"UST is deserving," he said with teary eyes. "I felt coach Boy (Sablan), the community, they deserve this because of the support."
"I know it's too early. We won't be content with this. But the community deserves this because of the support. I'm not saying last year, even though I'm with a different team, I had to do the job but I felt the UST community. I just want to help this University," he added.
UST 76 - Subido 18, Lee 13, Marcos 12, Akomo 10, Huang 9, Cansino 7, Zamora 5, Mahinay 2, Cosejo 0, Cuanan 0, Bonleon 0
FEU 74 - Orizu 25, Cani 15, Escoto 13, Tolentino 6, Comboy 5, Parker 4, Tuffin 2, Ebona 2, Stockton 2, Inigo 0, Gonzales 0
QUARTER SCORES: 15-17, 39-32, 56-52, 76-74