Never in the history of UAAP (University Athletic Association of the Philippines) that a fourth seed team beat the first seed for a finals playoff. But that’s what happened Saturday, September 28, when UST (University of Santo Tomas) defeated NU (National University) 76-69 in their second game for basketball supremacy.
NU had a twice-to-beat advantage for being the first team to get into the Final Four. But UST prevailed over them twice. It was indeed a sad, sorry loss for the NU Bulldogs but an exhilarating journey for the UST Growling Tigers.
Coach Pido Jarencio was so emotional seconds towards the end of the game that he cried. Even during the interview, all he could say was that nobody believed his boys could stand a chance against the Bulldogs this time.
Anchors Boom Gonzales and Kirk Long obviously understood Coach Pido’s emotional state that they no longer pursued asking him questions about the victory. Last time, Coach Pido justified Kevin Ferrer’s rough play when NU’s Bobby Ray Parks complained, saying that in Philippine basketball players even die or kill for a softdrink.
UST was the champion in 2006, until ADMU (Ateneo De Manila University) had a five-year winning streak from 2007 to 2012. Erstwhile champ Ateneo did not make it to the Final Four. They suffered their first loss to the NU Bulldogs.
In the first round, the FEU (Far Eastern University) Tamaraws was leading and was thought to be the team to beat, along with NU. But along the way, they suffered losses, the biggest one was from the hands of the DLSU (De La Salle University) Green Archers last Wednesday.
La Salle, the eventual winner in that game, will face UST in the finals. It was a sweet victory for UST as they had been clobbered by Ateneo last year. The coaches, who unanimously said at the beginning of the season that NU was the team to beat, are now saying that La Salle is the new Ateneo.
Interestingly, DLSU main man Jeron Teng will be facing his elder brother Jeric of UST in the playoffs. Either of the team wins, there is a Teng there, sons of former PBA (Philippine Basketball Association) stalwart Alvin Teng.
I’ve been rooting for NU at the very start, but my bet is now placed on DLSU.