Host University of Santo Tomas played zone defense and reigning champion Far Eastern U found the best formula to neutralize it: Take and make three-point shots.
With starting playmaker Jojo Trinidad leading their three-point barrage from the get-go, the Tamaraws hammered out a wire-to-wire 79-72 victory over the Growling Tigers on Saturday night to forge a three way tie at the second spot in the UAAP Season 79 men’s basketball tourney at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The 5-foot-10 Trinidad drilled in a game-high 17 points, spiked by five triples, and teamed up with veteran Raymar Jose in FEU’s ferocious 16-2 start that allowed them to gain early control over UST, eventually turning the rematch of last year’s finals into a one-sided affair.
The victory was the third straight and fourth overall in six matches for FEU, which joined idle Ateneo and National U at the second spot behind powerhouse La Salle (6-0). UST suffered its second consecutive loss for a 2-4 mark.
While the Tamaraws made 11 triples, their most so far this season, FEU coach Nash Racela mainly attributed that for his wards’ willingness to keep the ball moving and find the open man.
“We’re not a good team playing against the zone. Today there were really good finds, mas maganda ball sharing, shot selection. That’s good for us,” he said. “If the other teams decide to zone us, magiging handa kami. We’re starting to get our confidence.”
Louie Vigil tallied a team-high 16 points, 12 of them coming in the final frame as he tried his best to will UST back in the thick of the fight, only to see FEU come up with enough plays to stay in control. – By Jerome Lagunzad
FEU 79 – Trinidad 17, Jose 16, Arong 11, Orizu 9, Bayquin 5, Holmqvist 4, Denila 4, Tuffin 3, Ebona 3, Nunag 3, Roxas 3, Comboy 1, Bienes 0
UST 72 – Vigil 16, Lee 13, Basibas 11, Sheriff 8, Subido 7, Macasaet 6, Faundo 6, Huang 3, Lao 2, Tateishi 0, Caunan 0, Afoakwah 0, De Guzman 0
Quarterscores: 22-14, 42-29, 65-50, 79-72.