I always think that UST Tigers are the UAAP's Ginebra, the good and the bad. They have a former Ginebra player in coach Pido, who at some point regardless of the odds, just rallies his team to work and play hard! At the same time they also have the tendency to be in the most "Ginebra" situation.
In season 75, UST Tigers were 1st runner up to Ateneo Blue Eagles but won the PCCL national championship during the off season.The team had the same core line up in Teng, Mariano, Ferrer, Abdul and Bautista, that's a solid first five, but their major loss was their leader Jeric Fortuna. In the first round, it was evident that they are weak on point guard position. There were games that one player had to takeover, there's no fluidity on the team offense. On top of that, they also lost king Tiger Jeric Teng after he suffered an injury against NU. The tigers managed to string a couple of wins but the turning point in the second round was their double overtime win against FEU tamaraws.
Yet again, the UST Tigers found themselves in the most Ginebra situation, after losing to the Green Archers they found themselves tied with the Blue Eagles. It was actually a game that was rescheduled because of bad weather and it turned out to be a fitting last eliminations round game. The tigers faced a different Ateneo team this year, they had a lot of changes in their line up and coaching staff but you cannot discount their championship experience. In the end, UST Tigers outlasted the Blue Eagles to book the last Final Four slot!
|Credit: UST Facebook Page|
The tigers entered the Final Four with a twice to win disadvantage over the number one team, NU Bulldogs. In their first game, the Tigers showed composure because they have been together in the same situation. Last year, they also faced NU but they we're the one with the twice to beat advantage. The key for game 1 was stopping Ray Parks and you can say whatever you want but Kevin Ferrer delivered in both stopping Parks and scoring for UST.
As they say, the twice to beat advantage is only an advantage if you use it on the first game. The second game is fair game and I believe that the pressure was on NU's side. I only managed to watch the replay of the second half and it was a close fight until the last 4 minutes. Both teams had to manage without their imports, UST's Abdul and NU's Mbe were in early foul troubles. Kudos to UST's Paulo Pe for fighting for rebounds and giving UST second chance possessions while Abdul was on the bench. It was still a Kevin Ferrer show on the fourth quarter
with traces of Miley Cyrus, SERIOUSLY drop those tongue antics but Ray Parks was nowhere to be found. He barely touched the ball on the last quarter and when he did, it was everything but the shot. I feel for him, that's not how you imagine to play your last UAAP game.
It took the UST Tigers 3 consecutive do or die games to barge in the finals against the Green Archers. From an inconsistent regular season performance, they finally have a chance to avenge their unfinished business from last season. I feel that its destiny and I'll just wait for it to unfold. Go USTe!!!