Tigers falter late anew against final four-seeking DLSU, end season at 1–13

By Ernest Martin Tuazon

(Photo from UAAP Season 85 media team)

The UST Growling Tigers ended their UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball tournament with a 1–13 record with another meltdown loss against the DLSU Green Archers, 72–77, Wednesday afternoon, at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

UST, with the help of returning Nic Cabañero and Royce Mantua, scored 10 of its 13 fourth salvo points in the first two minutes of the quarter, before allowing La Salle to storm back with a 17–3 run to keep their final four hopes alive.

Mantua nailed two triples, while Cabañero showed no signs of an injury as he willed his way inside for a quick four-point spurt.

Former Growling Tiger Mark Nonoy and Evan Nelle led DLSU’s blast as Nonoy nailed two triples to tie the game at 69-all, while Nelle completed an AND1 trip to keep Taft in step with España.

In the last two minutes of the match, UST gave up three crucial turnovers courtesy of Echo Laure’s overhead pass to the baseline, Mantua stepping on the sideline, and Adama Faye turning the ball over with 20.9 seconds left.

A breakout game for former Baby Tamaraw Mantua went for naught as after nailing five out of his six point attempts, he missed a long bomb that would have trimmed the DLSU lead to two with 10 seconds left to play.

Before the meltdown began, UST led for the most part as Mantua nailed two of his five triples in the first salvo to give the Tigers a six-point lead at the end of one, 27–21.

A dunk from Faye extended the Tigers lead to eight late into the second frame, but a free throw by Bright Nwanko and a go-ahead layup by Nelle trimmed the UST lead to five at the half, 42–37.

Mantua posted 17 markers and five boards in the Tigers’ final game of Season 85, while Cabañero and Calimag chimed in with 16 and 10 points, respectively.

Nelle, meanwhile, had arguably his best game of the season for DLSU with 25 points and five rebounds.

La Salle played without center Mike Phillips and Gilas mainstay Kevin Quiambao who were ruled out due to non-COVID illnesses.

In the post-game press conference, head coach Bal David confirmed that the only graduating player from the roster is guard Jamba Garing, while a much needed ‘revamp’ is in sight heading into Season 86.

The Scores:

DLSU (77) — Nelle 25, Cortez 13, Nonoy 10, Phillips 8, Macalalag 6, Austria 5, Estacio 3, Buensalida 2, Abadam 2, Manuel 2, Nwankwo 1

UST (72) — Mantua 17, Cabañero 16, Calimag 10, Faye 9, Pangilinan 5, Manalang 4, Laure 4, Manaytay 4, Lazarte 3

Quarter Scores: 27–21, 42–37, 59–55, 72–77.

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