Tigers oust Bulldogs, arrange title showdown vs Tams

The University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers singing their school hymn shortly after booking their UAAP Fianls ticket at the expense of the National University Bulldogs. Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines - In the end, it was the Tigers - and not the Bulldogs - who bit harder.

The UST Growling Tigers leaned on an early scoring barrage to dethrone the NU Bulldogs via a wire-to-wire 64-55 victory on Sunday in the UAAP Final Four at the Araneta Coliseum.

An unlikely topscorer figured in Louie Vigil, who tallied 19 points. Skipper Kevin Ferrer added 11 while Sheak Sheriff  chipped in 10 in what had been a continued Final Four mastery of Bulldogs by the Tigers.

"Nilabas na nila 'yung 'puso' ngayon eh. From the start, dumepensa kami," UST head coach Bong dela Cruz noted. "Nagawa namin 'yung defense namin, naexecute namin ng maayos"

"Masaya ako na nag-step up si Louie," Ferrer said of Vigil, who finished three assists shy of a triple double.

"I didn't expect him to step-up like this," Karim Abdul added of Vigil.

The Tigers' defense, led by Sherrif, held down Bulldogs orchestrator Angelo Alolino to only a field goal in the game. He only finished with six points in 17 attempts.

"We feel we did not get it done on both ends [of the game]," NU coach Eric Altamirano said. "I was shocked to see them play like that."

Asked what had been the biggest takeaway of the game, Ferrer said "Pamilya kaming maglaro. Mga tactics one-on-one, walang ganon. Pero 'yung tactics namin, as a team. As pamilya.:

UST's Vigil flirted with a triple double in 33 minutes of action. He posted 19 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. Sherrif was 60 percent from the field, but was a victim of a late-game tactic orchestrated to exploit him at the free throw line, where he only converted four of his 12 attempts.

NU's Pau Javelona was the lone Bulldog who posted double digits with 17  pts. He corralled seven rebounds, while big man Alfred Aroga, who engaged Abdul in a physical tussle in the post, only scored seven points points. He made up with 15 rebounds to finish the game.

Tigers' Ferrer, who is playing his last UAAP season, caught the Bulldogs' Kyle Neypes with an ankle breaker at 6:37 of the final period of the game. The former took a quick glance on a fellow ex-Tiger Cub before firing a jump shot and making it.  

UST never trailed in the game.

UST last won the championship in 2006. FEU last hoisted the men's basketball hardware in 2005.The Tigers have 18 championships under their belt, while the Tamaraws, 19. The last time the two teams met in the UAAP Finals was in 1979. The Morayta-based cagers won.

Former Bulldogs big man and now Talk 'N Text's prized rookie in the PBA, Troy Rosario was in attendance. Nash Racela, head tactician for the Far Eastern University Tamaraws was also among the spectators. The latter's team eliminated crowd favorite Ateneo de Manila University and newly minted Most Valuable Player Kiefer Ravena in the first Final Four game Saturday.

Game 1 of the Finals will be played on Wednesday, November 25, at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay. Game 2 will be on Saturday, November 28, at the Araneta Coliseum. Game 3 will return the MOA Arena on Wednesday, December 2. All games will be at 3:30 p.m.

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An earlier version of this story stated that the game was held at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay. The match was actually held at the Araneta Coliseum in Cubao. The correction has been applied.

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