The University of Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers have started their UAAP Season 74 campaign with a win as they beat the NU Bulldogs earlier today via overtime. The final score was 73-72. Jeric Fortuna, who's just 5'8 in height, carried the Tigers over the barking Bulldogs. He had 23 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists. He may be small in size, but he has a big heart that pumped blood into the veins of the Tigers especially in Overtime.
The game was really close right from the start as both of the teams wanted to start the UAAP Season 74 Basketball Wars with a win.
In the first quarter, the Tigers were having a field day as Chris Camus, Kevin Ferrer and Jeric Fortuna had a great field Goal shooting but due to some turnovers the Bulldogs were able to keep the game close. UST only managed to lead by as much as 4 points at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter was a reverse of the first quarter as the Bulldogs managed to have a better field goal shooting than the Tigers. Dennis Villamor and Bobby Ray Parks Jr. led the scoring for NU. By the end of the 2nd quarter NU managed to get the lead from UST, 33-31.
In the half time break, the commentators discussed the first half stats. In the field goal shooting aspect, NU shot 43% while UST shot 44%. In terms of free throw shooting, NU had the upper hand as they shot 9 out of 10 from the charity stripe while UST had an ugly 1 out of 10 shooting from the free throw line. I think I know what will be their first agenda in their training tomorrow. Coach Pido will surely have his shooting hands full tomorrow. For now, they should celebrate. Going on, in terms of the number of turnovers, NU had 12 while UST only had 9. The Tigers have lesser turnovers probably because they now have enough scorers and big time gunners on the floor who are ready to knock down shots from all points on the floor. And finally, in terms of bench points, NU showed that they have a deeper bench than UST as their bench, led by Jeff Javillonar and Cedric Labing-isa, the former UST Tigercub scored 15 points all in all in the first half while UST's bench only registered 5 dismal points. UST needs more bench scoring for them to be a legit title contender this year because that's one of of their weakness as what was shown in their game today against NU.
In the 3rd quarter, UST came out firing from their dug out. They started out with a 6 to 0 run to get the lead from NU. UST had a 3 point lead, 40 to 37, in the last 6 minute mark of the 3rd quarter but NU didn't let them get away that easy as they made a quick run to tie the score, 44 to 44 at the end of the 3rd quarter.
In the 4th quarter, NU's Coach, Eric Altamirano surprised the Tiger by inserting his electrifying new point guard Cedric Labing-isa to defend against the shooter of UST, Jeric Fortuna. He initially made a terrific defensive job against Fortuna and on top of that he also sank a booming 3 pointer that gave the momentum to NU. NU's other scoring threat, Dennis Villamor made back-to-back 3 pointers that gave NU a more comfortable lead, 58-52 in the last 4 minutes and 15 seconds of the 4th quarter. Villamor had 17 big points all in all in this game. He placed second to Jeric Fortuna in terms of the scoring output in this game. He and Mbe propelled NU to a 3 point lead, 65-62 in the last 1 minute and 28 second mark of the 4th quarter. UST suffered a big blow at this point because their Cameroonian center, Karim Abdul fouled out of the game when his team needed him the most. Going back into the first half, there was a premonition that something bad will happen to Abdul when he broke his shoe. That was such a bad sign, but nonetheless, Jeric Fortuna never gave up as he made a game tying three pointer that tied the ball game at 65 all. The game went into overtime because of him.
In Overtime, UST was able to have a commanding 4 point lead, 69-65 with 2:55 left on the clock and that was again because of Fortuna. But, Bobby Ray Parks of NU immediately answered with a three pointer to cut the lead of UST down to 1 point, 69-68. NU was able to make another run to get the lead from UST, 72 -71. But once again, the smallest player on the floor, Jeric Fortuna made a lefty lay-up to give back the lead to UST, 73-72. I can now give him the Title, UST's new go-to-guy but I realized that it's still too early. I might as well wait until they win 2 more games. Going on, Bobby Parks Jr. had a chance to win the game for NU in the last 17 seconds of the Overtime but Jeric Teng did an excellent job in stopping him. He missed the shot and the buzzer sounded. The game went in favor of UST. As a result, UST now have 1 win and no loss while NU goes down in the team standings with no win and 1 loss.
This is a big testament game for UST as they slay one of the pre-season UAAP Final 4 favorites, NU. UST will go on to face UE on Sunday at 4:00 p.m..