Star guard Jeric Teng led a huge University of Santo Tomas comeback by firing 21 points to lift the Tigers to a 77-71 victory over National University in UAAP Season 75 action Saturday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
Teng, who exploded for 15 points in the second quarter, also grabbed 11 rebounds to lead UST to its second straight come-from-behind triumph of the season.
“Nakatsamba na naman kami,” said UST coach Pido Jarencio, who also steered his team to a 71-70 thriller over defending champions Ateneo last July 19. “Malakas lang ang panalangin kaya nananalo tayo.”
NU and UST engaged in a tight battle in the first quarter before the Bulldogs grabbed a 21-15 lead at the end of the period, highlighted by Ray Parks’ three-pointer right before the buzzer.
UST found themselves down by double-digits for most of the first half, when Parks lit up the scoreboard with 20 points.
But Teng helped the Tigers close the gap to just five points at the break, 41-36.
The Bulldogs kept UST at bay in the third period, but the Tigers unloaded a 16-3 blast in the finals quarter that saw Teng burying two three-pointers and Jeric Fortuna completing a three-point play with 1:05 left to finally give them the lead, 75-69, and seal the victory.
“Sabi ko lang sa teammates ko, never say die,” Teng said.
Jarencio attributed his team’s lack of firepower at the beginning of the game its early tipoff.
The game was scheduled at 11 a.m., earlier than the usual 2 p.m. start, because organizers decided to sell separate tickets for the Ateneo-La Salle game at 4 p.m.
“Sinanay ko yung team ko na kung ano yung oras ng laro, yun yung oras ng ensayo,” said Jarencio, who calls practice during noon. “Syempre kailangang gumising nang maaga. Kaya medyo malamig yung dating namin.”
Karim Abdul chipped in 11 points, while Fortuna and forward Aljon Mariano scored 10 points apiece for UST, which now sports a 2-1 win-loss record.
Parks led the way for NU with 25 points and four rebounds. Emmanuel Mbe and Joshua Alolino both added 13 points for the Bulldogs, whose record dropped to 2-2.
» Injured Ryan Arana hopes rookies Jeric Teng, Alex Nuyles can step up in his absence
» Back in finals: After losing in college, rookies Teng, Almazan hope to win with Rain or Shine
» Former King Tiger Jervy Cruz thrilled for ex-coach Pido Jarencio’s PBA debut