BOOSTED by veteran wingman Zach Huang’s career game, University of Santo Tomas sent University of the East crashing back to earth yesterday.
The Growling Tigers ripped the Red Warriors 101-73 for their fifth win and gained solo third in the 82nd UAAP basketball tournament at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Huang shot 6-of-8 from beyond the arc to wind up with 22 points, on top of five rebounds, while athletic Beninese forward Soulemane Chabi Yo added a double-double of 22 markers and 14 boards.
Brent Paraiso and Sherwin Concepcion also combined for 20 points as the Tigers snapped their two-game losing skid and hiked their record to 5-4. UE saw its two-game winning skein come to a screeching halt and slipped to 3-6.
In the other game, National University held off Far Eastern University 85-79 in overtime for its second win.
Dave Ildefonso led the Bulldogs with 27 points, seven of them coming in the extra period, to go with 11 rebounds and two assists while 6-foot-9 Senegalese reinforcement Issa Gaye chipped in 16 markers and 10 caroms.
John Lloyd Clemente also had 15 points for NU, which snapped a two-game losing skid and improved to 2-7 and halted FEU’s two-game winning streak and slipped to 4-5.
Tigers coach Aldin Ayo said his charges felt the pressure of proving their worth in their slump but rediscovered who they are.
“We were able to release the pressure. Iyong past games namin, grabe iyong pressure sa mga bata,” said Ayo.
“Binigyan lang namin iyon ng pansin and this game, we were more relaxed. I told them to go back to having fun while playing and just enjoy the season.”
The España-based squad took a 55-29 spread at the half and stretched the difference to as high as 72-38 on a Huang triple at the 4:59 mark of the third canto.
UST still enjoyed a 74-54 bulge going into the payoff period and was never threatened from there.
Senegalese center Alex Diakhite paced the Warriors with 24 points while Neil Tolentino, Philip Manalang, and Rey Suerte had 11, 10, and 10, respectively.
“We just came back to basics,” said Bulldogs coach Jamike Jarin. “What was the formula? Going back to basics and staying in level one.”
After seizing a 39-32 edge at the break, NU grabbed a 53-35 advantage in the third quarter but allowed the Tams to raze the deficit and take a 67-65 buffer in the fourth period.