Batang Gilas standout Lina helping Tigers Cubs back to UAAP juniors semis
Rick Olivares (Philstar.com) - January 23, 2020 - 12:15pm

MANILA, Philippines – Since returning to the UST Tiger Cubs’ lineup after missing the first four games of UAAP Season 82, center Bismarck Lina has led his team to a 4-2 record for an over-all slate of 6-4. 

Lina, a former Batang Gilas player and a member of last season’s Mythical Five, has quietly raced up the statistical charts.

The 6’5” Lina, a cousin of former UST star Kevin Ferrer, is averaging 14.6 points (10th in the league), 9.1 rebounds (seventh), 1.5 assists and 1.1 blocks (ninth) per game. He is leading in two-point field goals made (5.6 per game) and field goal percentage (61%). Lina is also fourth in free throws made with a total of 20. 

Two seasons ago, Lina played second fiddle to eventual league Most Valuable player CJ Cansino. In Season 81, he was part of that one-two punch with Mark Nonoy, who also bagged the MVP plum at the end of the season. 

This year, playing alongside Jacob Cortez, the son of former La Salle great Mike Cortez, Lina has helped the Tigers Cubs to a better record than the previous year. UST finished 7-7 last year. Now at 6-4, they are currently in third place in the race to the Final Four.

“Goal ko is to help UST return to the Final Four,” said Lina. In Season 80, the Tigers Cubs finished 7-7 but defeated Adamson in the playoff for the fourth seed, 73-72. That season went to the stepladder format after Ateneo, the eventual champion, swept the elimination round. 

UST continued its miraculous run with an 81-80 win over third seed FEU and their wondrous duo of RJ Abarrientos and LJ Gonzales. However, they ran out of steam against NU in the semifinals, 91-72.

Along with Cortez and Lina, playing key roles in UST’s campaign are Jethro Escoto, Rojan Montemayor, Jan Villarez and Jan Salazar among others.

Lina played for the gold medal-winning Philippine team in the 2017 Seaba Under-16 Championships in Manila as well as the 2018 Fiba U18 Asian Championships in Thailand where the nationals finished in fourth place. 

UST plays fourth-running Ateneo at 11 a.m. Sunday at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.

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