Daquioag explosion tows UST past UP to take solo lead

Ed Daquioag fires a career-high 27 points to lead UST past UP and on top of the UAAP Season 78. Efigenio Toledo IV

MANILA, Philippines -- Ed Daquioag put up another stellar performance as University of Santo Tomas spoiled the merry run of University of the Philippines, 67-59, Sunday to grab the solo lead in the UAAP Season 78 men's basketball tourney at the MOA Arena.

Assuming the scoring mantle on his final year, Daquioag banged in 27 big points spiked by 17 in the payoff period to power the Tigers to their third straight victory and their best start in 12 years.

The Maroons, who was held down to four points in the first quarter but fiercely fought back  into the game, suffered their first loss in three outings and slipped to second spot.

"Syempre, iba rin yung nakauna ka, magandang start ito para sa amin (It's a good start for us and it put us in a prime position this early)," said UST coach Bong dela Cruz, whose wards went 3-0 before a season-high crowd of 11,705.

"It was a hard game. UP came prepared and good thing, we were able to execute our game plan both on offense and defense," added dela Cruz.

Daquioag stepped forward just when the Maroons were threatening in the stretch. The high-flying UST star scored eight points in a crucial 8-5 assault that handed the Espana-based squad a 61-54 cushion going to the last 37.9 seconds.

"I'm one of the leaders of this team so I have to set a good example and play with a lot of confidence," said Daquioag, who also topscored with 28 and 18 in UST's two previous victories over Adamson 70-64, and powerhouse Far Eastern, 72-71.

From more of a defensive player and back-up to the like of Jeric Teng and Jeric Fortuna, Daquiaog has come into his own and emerged as a lethal scoring threat for the Tigers.

"I'm just grabbing the opportunity and the repaying the coaching staff for their faith in me," said the 24-year-old Daquioag.

Kevin Ferrer, the other half of UST's 1-2 punch, added 16 markers and 10 rebounds while Karim Abdul, still trying to get back to top form, had eight points and the same number of rebounds.

Diego Dario and Paul Desiderio led UP with 15 and 12, respectively, striking hard during the Maroons' searing fightback.

The Scores:

First game

UST 67 - Daquioag 27, Ferrer 16, Abdul 8, Subido 4, Vigil 4, Bonleon 3, Lee 3, Sheriff 2, Huang 0, Lao 0, Suarez 0.

UP 59 - Dario 15, Desiderio 12, Manuel 9, Kone 6, Gallarza 5, Moralde 4, Juruena 3, Vito 3, Lim 2, Amar 0, Asilum 0, Harris 0, Jaboneta 0, Longa 0, Prado 0.

Quarterscores: 10-4, 21-15, 42-40, 67-59.

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