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Tigers escape Tams in thriller, 77-73

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – The UST Growling Tigers escaped past FEU Tamaraws with a nerve-wracking 77-73 win Thursday to stay in the hunt for the second spot in the UAAP Season 74 men’s basketball at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Veteran Chris Camus and rookie Kevin Ferrer came through with clutch hits from the outside while Karim Abdul steadied at the line as UST hiked its record to 5-1 in the second round and 8-5 overall, tying its victim for the third spot behind Adamson (9-4).

The Tigers can force a playoff for the no.2 spot should they end up at 9-5 with the Falcons, who will face the unbeaten Ateneo Blue Eagles (13-0) on Saturday.

After squandering an 18-point first half lead and trailing by three, 66-69, UST turned to Camus and Ferrer who came away with back-to-back three-pointers to get them back on top, 72-69, with 1:21 left.

Abdul, however, was called for an unsportsmanlike foul for elbowing FEU’s John Foronda in a rebound battle. 

But the Tamaraws failed to capitalize as Foronda muffed the free throws then Terrence Romeo missed a short jumper forcing them to go into fouling spree.

Abdul connected on three of four attempts from the line sandwiching a split from FEU’s Aldrech Ramos to stretch UST’s lead to five, 75-70, time down to 29.2 ticks.

FEU finally gave in when reigning MVP RR Garcia and Romeo missed three consecutive three-point attempts, allowing UST to escape with the win that avenged their first 59-62 first round loss.

UST started out strong behind the hot hands of Ferrer as it led by as much as 18, 29-11, at the onset of the second canto.

Cebuano rookie Roger Pogoy, however, came out of nowhere to score 14 points off the bench and rallied FEU within two, 53-55, at the end of the third period.

The Tams seized the lead twice in the payoff period on Garcia’s triple – the last one gave FEU a 67-66 lead which extended to 69-66 on his feed to an open Chris Exciminiano for the baseline drive with 3:21 to go.

Abdul bullied his way to 20 points on top of 13 rebounds, two steals and the same number of blocks, but he might miss UST’s final game against NU after incurring his second unsportsmanlike foul in the season.

Ferrer wound up with 19 points, 13 coming in the first half, and hauled down 12 rebounds for the Tigers, who entered the second round with a an even 4-4 card.

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