This game could have proven to all of UST's critics that they are indeed a Final 4 contender in this year's UAAP Men's Basketball games, but they failed to win this game against the very resilient FEU Tamaraws. The Tamaraws beat the Tigers via 62-59. As a result, FEU now has 4 wins and 1 loss while UST now has 2 wins and 2 losses.
I have all the positive things to say about FEU. They are definitely a Final 4 Team along with Ateneo and Adamson. Even if FEU's go-to-guy, RR Garcia didn't play well in this game, their second stringers such as Carl Bryan Cruz and especially Cris Tolomia stepped-up. That's how deep FEU's bench is. They used that strength all throughout this game. Tolomia carried his team on his shoulders. He scored a career high 10 points in this game. He and his teammates were very resilient in this game. They just continued to play despite the poor showing of Garcia who only scored a career low, 9 points. The Tamaraws didn't give up and they continued to pressure the guards of UST in the fourth quarter and it paid dividends to them in the end. UST's guards committed crucial mistakes in the dying minutes of the fourth quarter due to FEU's full court pressure defense. UST's fragility and poor execution of plays were exposed in this game.
As what I've said in the first paragraph above, this game could have proven that UST is indeed a contender this year, but just like last year, they failed to win this very crucial game. Last year they started their UAAP Season 73 campaign also with 2 big wins but when they face a formidable team in their third game, they lost and that was the start of their misery. They continued to lose some games and that killed their Final 4 hopes. I don't want to see that happen again this season for UST, but it seemed that they are on their way to that direction once again. Their next opponents will be Ateneo, UP and DLSU. Those are also good teams. If they will not be able to drastically change their bad habits, they will be in a tough situation.
Yeah UST have enough firepower this year with the addition of Louie Vigil, Karim Abdul and Kevin Ferrer but it seemed that their veterans such as Jeric Teng is having some crucial mistakes on the offensive end for the Tigers. They can't live well in the UAAP if one of their main men, Teng will not play well especially in the latter portions of a ball game.
I don't know if it's just me or there are other sports buffs out there who noticed that if Teng was being heavily pressured on the back court, most of the time he'll throw the ball outside or he'll commit a turn over. Just like in their game against Adamson. He was pressured in so many instances in that game and he just succumbed to them by committing a lot of turn overs that doused and killed the confidence of his teammates. Those crucial mistakes were also shown in their game today against FEU.
In the last 50 seconds of their game against FEU, Teng was the designated in-bounder. FEU's was pressing them especially Jeric Fortuna. Teng passed the ball to Fortuna. It my own point of view, the past was too sharp and it was also a bit il-advised because Fortuna was teetering against the baseline and against FEU's defenders. Thus, they committed another turn over. It was costly because FEU was able to get the lead from them because of that miscue. Thankfully Jeric Fortuna was able to make a perimeter jumper that tied the ball game at 59-59, in the last 35 seconds of the ball game. In the ensuing play, FEU's super rookie Cris Tolomia played a hero's role as he drilled a 3-pointer courtesy of a nice pass from RR Garcia. That won the game for FEU.
Teng did a great job in containing RR Garcia and he also did a great job in scoring for the Tigers, in fact he scored 23 points, but I believe his shot selection in the latter part of the game was also a big reason why they lost to FEU. The Tamaraws had a 2 point lead. There was enough time for UST to tie the game when Fortuna issued an outlet pass to Teng in the last 35 seconds of the ball game. He could have opted to give back the ball to Fortuna for a reset play but he opted to attack the double team of FEU. He missed the contested shot and FEU got the rebound and they just burned the game clock. The buzzer sounded and the game was over.
This game is really a hard pill to swallow most especially for the Tigers. They could have won this game but they were not yet up to the challenge. The Tigers still have more work to do.
I don't want to dampen the confidence of Teng. He's having a stellar season for the Tigers. He's defending well and he's scoring well but his poise and composure in the end game are the suspects why UST is falling short. He is the now and he is the future of his team. He should have known better because Fortuna can't do it all alone. Yeah, Fortuna has a big heart. He can shoot crucial shots, but he needs the help of Teng for better blood distribution when they (The Tigers) run to get their prey.
Here are the scores from Inboundpass.com:
FEU 62- Tolomia 10, Ramos 10, Garcia 9, Exciminano 8, Cawaling 7, Cruz 6, Bringas 6, Romeo 4, Foronda 2, Sentcheu 0, Fabian 0, Escoto 0, Knuttel 0
UST 59 – Teng 23, Fortuna 16, Camus 8, Ferrer 6, Abdul 3, Lo 2, Afuang 1, Vigil 0, Tan 0, Pe 0
Quarter scoring: 16-15, 21-30, 38-44, 62-59
And here's the Cris Tolomia game winning shot courtesy of YouTube: