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The Faith Game
(or UE rallies from an 11-point deficit to pip UST)
words, pic and videos by rick olivares
Some things have to be taken on faith.
UST’s Kevin Ferrer hit a dagger of a three right before the end of the third period buzzer to give the Growling Tigers a 58-47 lead.
The UE Red Warriors struggled for much of the game. They looked mighty good when Ralf Olivares waxed hot towards the end of the first period all the way to the early second when he scored 10 consecutive points. But UST quickly doused that fire.
UST played with more intensity and hit some pretty big shots while UE’s shot themselves in the foot with their questionable selection and a bunch of really bad turnovers.
The final 10 minutes didn’t get off to a good start for UE as Roi Sumang was whistled for a foul on Clark Bautista. Roi shook his head as he looked at the ref who made the call.
As UST inbounded the ball once more to Bautista who drove hard, UE center Charles Mammie blocked his shot. Adrian Santos corralled the loose ball and pitched it forward to Sumang who was already streaking home. Paolo Pe tried to block Sumang but he fouled him in the process for an and-one. Fortunately for UST, Sumang missed the free throw, 58-49.
In the Tigers’ next possession, Sumang pilfered Bautista’s pockets and he hightailed it down for another bucket; 58-51, still UST.
Ed Daquioag tried to knock down a dagger but his three-ball missed. UE had two chances to cut the lead down further but Olivares and Mammie missed to undergoal stabs.
UST missed another shot. Ferrer pushed Mammie off for a foul and UE had the ball back.
Sumang had the ball outside the three-point arc with Karim Abdul on him. Abdul’s challenge forced Sumang to miss but UE pulled down an offensive board. The ball was worked back to Sumang who drove this time around. He drew Abdul to the right then he dropped the ball to an unguarded Santos who had an uncontested layup.
UE tried this play on three previous occasions but each time they were called for a three-second lane violation. When they needed it the most, they executed it well; 58-53.
Sumang scored on UE’s next offensive to bring the lead down to three, 58-55. He had scored six of the last eight UE points in an 8-0 run.
UST’s misery continued when they were slapped with a 24-second shot clock violation. Drawing the defense, Sumang found Mammie who scored and was fouled. But the Sierra Leone native was unable to make good on his bonus shot for the tie.
Bautista missed a three but Abdul grabbed the offensive board. He missed the shot.
UE flubbed it’s next set as UST got a reprieve.
The ball was given to Karim Abdul who was playing high. As UST’s Cameroonian center drove, Mammie poked the ball away to Gino Jumao-as. Sumang read the defensive stop well and already was down court even as Jumao-as snagged the ball. The former San Sebastian Staglet passed it to his teammate for a one-point lead, 59-58.
Daquioag scored from underneath for UST’s first points of the fourth period. Five minutes and five seconds had elapsed since their last bucket.
Jumao-as traveled and Ferrer hit a trifecta for a 63-59 lead. The Tigers looked like they got their second wind as Abdul blocked Santos. Bautista was fouled on his layup attempt by Jumao-as. The fifth year Tiger made good on his two free throws for a six-point lead, 65-59.
It looked like UE’s late rally had run out of steam but Lord Casajeros who had not played well up to that point hit a triple and scored on a lay-up. Suddenly, UST was on their heels again, 65-64.
A JM Noble foul put Abdul on the 15-foot line but he was up to the task. Three-point lead restored, 67-64, with 2:54 to play. But the Tigers would not score again as they missed shot after shot.
Abdul missed a wide open jumper that Mammie tracked down for the board (he had gone out to defend the shot). Olivares airballed a triple from the left corner and Daquioag reprised the miss from the opposite side.
Sumang shockingly took an ill-advised shot that Ferrer rebounded. Bautista also missed three but Ferrer was able to get the offensive rebound. Daquioag drove the left baseline but his twisting lay-up was woefully short as it barely grazed the rim.
Casajeros tapped the ball to Jumao-as who once more found Sumang on a forward pass. The lay-up was good and UE was a point behind, 67-66.
UST head coach Pido Jarencio called for time to make sure that his charges executed the final 20 seconds well.
The three game officials went over to Deputy Commissioner Ato Badolato who reminded them to watch out for the fouls since UE could possibly foul if UST successfully inbounded the ball.
Over at the UE bench, Red Warriors head coach Boycie Zamar asked his players if they believed they could pull this win off. To his surprise, no one answered. “You need to believe that you can win,” he reminded them. Going back to his instructions, he had Mammie try and force a five-second inbound violation.
The result was just as good. Mammie forced Daquioag to make a dangerous high crosscourt pass to Kevin Ferrer who straddled the sidelines in front of the UST bench. Ferrer snagged the ball but landed right on the sideline. The officials caught the violation and whistled UST for the turnover.
With 18.4 seconds left, Casajeros inbounded the ball to Sumang who had Daquioag all over him. In situations like this, UE in the past has two options – one, Sumang will take a long three-pointer, and two, he’ll drive. If he can make the shot, he’ll go all the way. If there’s opposition, he’ll kick it out to a teammate. As soon as Sumang got the ball, Mammie clear out opening up the left side.
Sumang faked a drive then made good on it three seconds later. Kevin Ferrer, who was watching Casajeros who slid over to the left corner pocket in case of a kick out, offered token defense on the drive. Sumang left Daquioag behind and laid the ball in under the arms of Abdul.
UE had the lead and the chance to win the game.
With no more timeouts left, UST passed the ball to Daquioag who drove to his side of the court. He was fouled by Sumang for the reset. UST asked for an unsportsmanlike foul as they believed that the UE guard did not go after the ball but the player. But the officials didn’t see it that way.
With six seconds left, Ferrer inbounded the ball to Bautista on the right side. The shooting guard drove the baseline drawing two defenders including Mammie who left Abdul. Bautista had the right idea as he shoveled a pass to Abdul. Unfortunately, It was off-mark. There was a brief struggle for the ball but Ferrer came away with it. He launched a desperation shot from a close range but it was short. Time elapsed giving UE an incredible, 68-67 win and their fourth straight.
The Red Warriors’ last loss was against UST where the Tigers’ posted an 11-point winning margin. With an 11-point deficit staring at them to start the fourth period, UE found its verve for a comeback win even when they were not playing well. The victory allowed UE to break the 4-3 record with UST to join NU at second place with a 5-3 record.
The Tigers in the meantime lost their second consecutive match to fall to an even 4-4.
Inside the UE dugout, Zamar put the win in terms for his team to understand. “Naniniwala ba kayo na kaya natin manalo,” he recounted of what happened during that last timeout. Just as it was during the game, it was to a room that was all ears. “Walang sumagot. You doubted again yourselves. Never doubt yourselves. Nakita niyo nag-inbound maliit. Nandoon si Charles nag cross-pass and we had a chance. Nakuha natin at na-shoot natin. Ayan, nanalo.”
You’re down by 11. You’re not playing well. Your star player in winded. The offense is sputtering. Yet you have a chance to win.
Some things just have to be taken on faith.
UE 68 - Sumang 20, Olivares 15, Mammie 10, Santos 6, Noble 5, Casajeros 5, Galanza 3, Sumido 2, Javier 2, Olayon 0, Pujante 0, Jumao-as 0, Hernandez 0, Guion 0.
UST 67 - Abdul 23, Bautista 13, Ferrer 12, Daquioag 12, Mariano 4, Hainga 2, Lo 1, Sheriff 0, Pe 0, Faundo 0.
For the first three periods, I did not jot down any notes. I half watched the game and half chatted with Kenneth Ti about different stuff.
Yet with that 11-point lead to end of the third, I flipped my notebook open and began to jot down notes. I told Ken (I sat near the technical committee) that I smelled a comeback in favor of UE. But they are not playing well, Ken said. They were being beaten in almost every statistical category.
I have to admit there’s no basis for that save for gut feel. I felt that they had a chance because their head coach would able to work his mojo on his team for a fourth quarter stand. Besides, I had seen this before (during the summer).
UST's inbound turnover vs UE
Roi Sumang's game winning layup and UST's botched last drive.