Came from lackluster performance by the UST Men’s Basketball Team in UAAP Season 77, analysts easily predicted that the España squad would be in the bottom four of Season 78. The Growling Tigers finished with five wins, nine loses, good for the sixth spot.
Season 77, led by Aljon Mariano, was one of the unforgettable seasons for the team. The Tigers finished as runner-up in two seasons before that. Coach Bong Dela Cruz was the neophyte coach, who took all the blame after he replaced Coach Pido Jarencio. It was also an injury-plagued season for Kevin Ferrer and Eduardo Daquioag.
FilOil Flying V Hanes Premiere Cup
UST Tigers exited early in the preseason cup. Jeron Teng of De La Salle University made the game-winning basket, 6.5 seconds remaining of their match up.
Even in an expected result of the game, this game made me realized that this line-up had a chance to have a Cinderella run in the upcoming season. The Green Archers was one of the favored teams to win the championship, then the Tigers just fell short on upsetting them, 82-84.
Eduardo Daquioag had a stellar game, scoring 20 points, Kent Lao with 14. Rookies Mario Bonleon and Marvin Lee contributed with 10 and eight respectively.
Kevin Ferrer: SEABA Championship 2015
The Philippines national basketball cadet team, Sinag Pilipinas, completed an unbeaten run at SEABA Championship. Amateur players, was led by the naturalized big man Marcus Douthit , swept the qualifying tournament of FIBA Asia Championship with five wins and no defeats.
Kevin Ferrer had a fine stint as he finished with 11.0 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 51.2 field goal percent, 48 percent in shooting threes in just under 20 minutes per game.
PBA Legend Alvin Patrimonio
Alvin Patrimonio, arguably one of the greatest power forwards ever played in PBA, joined the coaching staff. He replaced Estong Ballesteros, who resigned as big man coach.
Big man coach is the one who focuses on low post offense, paint defense and footwork. This acquisition made Kevin Ferrer, Ed Daquioag, Karim Abdul and Louie Vigil exploit the paint with great footwork and varieties of inside moves.
UAAP Season 78: The Three and Zero
UST 70 – 64 Adamson
UST 72 – 71 FEU
UST 67 – 59 UP
Who expected that University of Santo Tomas would start this hot? Well, it was Ed’s show. He scored 24.3 points per game in his first three. He also became an instant favorite of UAAP community to win the MVP trophy. Meanwhile, after Aljon Mariano left, Kevin Ferrer slided to power forward position who had 17.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.
The Tigers also survived the wild third quarter run of the Tamaraws, the last year runner-up with intact lineup for this season. At this point, one of the Tigers’ weaknesses was exposed. The players off the bench lack point production.
Summarizing the elimination rounds
After the 3-0 start, the Tigers became a one-two punch team. Most of the shots were taken by Ed and Kevin. In first round, Daquioag had mediocre performance until he exploded for 34 points, six assists, four rebounds, but with five turnovers against University of the East. The Tigers finished the first round, 6-1.
In second round, the España squad added more weapons in offense. Karim Abdul and Louie Vigil took more shots, while Marvin Lee and Jamil Sheriff managed the point.
UST booked the number one seed with 11-3 win-loss card. Kevin Ferrer fell short to bag the MVP trophy, as Kiefer Ravena sealed his back-to-back highest individual recognition in UAAP.
UST Growling Tigers’ main weapon was their defense. They also tried to keep the game slow, so they could set-up their efficient halfcourt offense and manage the minutes of key players. Coach Bong usually used eight or nine-man rotation, with minimal scoring from the bench.
Key team stats (League Rank):
- 39.7 field goal percent (2), behind FEU
- 31.0 three-point field goal percent (1)
- 26 free-throw attempts (3), 68.4 free-throw percent (1)
- 16.4 turnovers per game (1)
- 40.6 rebounds per game (last)
- 11.9 assists per game (6)
- 7.4 fast break points per game (last)
- 8.4 second chance points per game ( 7)
Coach Bong maximized the use of his veterans in the team as four players played more than 24 minutes a game. Most of his bench players were role players, none as designated scorers. UST was dead last in bench scoring production.
Key players stats (position):
- Kevin Ferrer (F): 17.9 points, 8.2 rebounds, 40% FG, 35% 3FG
- Ed Daquioag (G): 16.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists
- Karim Abdul (C): 12.6 points, 8.4 rebounds
- Louie Vigil (G): 9.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists
- Rest of the team: 19.1 points, 12.4 rebounds, 4.9 assists
Final 4: Dethroning the Bulldogs
UST Growling Tigers relied on balanced scoring from key veterans and suffocating pressure on the defense to dethrone the National University and advanced to the UAAP Season 78 Finals, 64-55. They limited the Bulldogs to 27% shooting, 5-of-27 from downtown, and forced NU to commit 15 turnovers.
Louie Vigil was alone on limelight as he led the Tigers with 19 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists, two steals and two blocks.
Mythical team players Kevin Ferrer and Ed Daquioag played subpar performances. Ferrer shot miserable from three (1-8), finishing the game with 11 points and 7 boards, while Daquioag with eight points and eight rebounds. Karim Abdul also not in usual self, six points, one of eight from the field.
Hack-a-Sheriff technique was used by NU to extend the game. Jamil Sheriff, just like the 2006 champion Japs Cuan, is a terrible free-throw shooter. Jamil, who went 4-of-12 from the line, almost opened the door for Bulldogs comeback.
UAAP Season 78 Finals: España vs Morayta
Far Easter University, down by 14 in first half, scored a comeback win over the University of Santo Tomas in Game 1, 75-64. The Tamaraws had a balance scoring game from key veterans of the team, as five players scored in double digits.
Karim led the Tigers with 19 points and 9 boards, while Kevin Ferrer scored 15. Semis hero Louie Vigil and Ed Daquioag went missing, shooting 4-of-14 and 1-of-7 from the field respectively.
In Game 2, UST Tigers and FEU Tamaraws engaged in defensive attacks. Both teams shot less than 30% from the field and from downtown. UST down by nine at the end of first half, 30-21, but then Kevin Ferrer took the game by storm. The King Tiger exploded for 6 straight triples, 24 of 26 UST’s third quarter points, and finished with 29 points and 10 rebounds.
Most of Kevin’s shots were contested. Maybe he just refused to quit and to accept that he was destined to graduate without a championship trophy in college. Coach Nash just waited for him to miss, but it did not happen. He just proved everyone that Kiefer Ravena is right. He deserves that “Co-MVP” trophy.
Sometimes, the game of basketball is not about the battle of Xs and Os, but not in Game 3.
Coach Nash’s goal? I don’t care who shoots the ball, as long as it was not Kevin Ferrer.
At half time, the game was back to square one, all-30. Sheriff’s shooting accuracy became the target of FEU’s defense. When Sheriff was on the floor, FEU left him open outside the paint. When Sheriff subbed out, FEU hounded the backcourt players of the Tigers. Sheriff, being the only true point guard for the Tigers, was badly needed to control the tempo of the game. Marvin Lee and Ed Daquioag are naturally shooting guards, so every time they brought the ball to front court, the offense had no motion at all. Isolation.
Yes. UST went on a huge 16-0 run bridging the third and fourth cantos, to take control of the game. But without Kevin Ferrer’s firepower, the offense would stick to isolation all game long. No ball rotation. Stagnant offense.
FEU avoided the meltdown, just recovered in time. They answered with 8-1 counter-run.
With three-point deficit, Daquioag went coast-to-coast and missed a layup over three defenders. Karim Abdul committed a costly turnover. Kevin Ferrer’s two “Hail Maries” from half court. Buzzer. The rest is history.
FEU won. Great defense was executed on denying Kevin Ferrer to touch the ball, who made two of only seven shot attempts.
As a basketball fan, not as Thomasian, I will always put Kevin Ferrer over Jeric Teng and Jeric Fortuna as King Tiger. After Jervy Cruz and Dylan Ababou’s era until now, I will not label anyone as King Tiger except Kevin Ferrer. Teng and Fortuna maybe became the heart and soul of the team, but only Ferrer overcome the barriers ahead of him.
Danny Ildefonso never had a championship trophy in college, but not in PBA. Maybe, that’s your destiny. Not now, maybe in the next chapter of your basketball career.
We will miss great individuals from this squad. Thank you, Karim Abdul. Thank you, Eduardo Daquioag. Thank you, Kevin Ferrer.
For all Thomasians, and for all sports fans, be grateful. No need to play the blame game. The lapses of the players and coaches are part of the breaks of the game.
PS: Ang sakit pumasok sa UST ng 2012. Pero okay lang, dahil ang tigreng nasusugatan, lalong lumalakas, lalong tumatapang.
- Stats from HumbleBola.com