MANILA, Philippines – One free throw was all it took to ignite Kevin Ferrer's hands and spark the UST Growling Tigers to a 62-56 victory over the FEU Tamaraws in Game 2 of the UAAP Season 78 Finals Saturday, November 28.
The 22-year-old skipper played out of his mind and was virtually unstoppable on his way to a 24-point third quarter explosion that effectively sparked UST's waning offense. Ferrer burned the net with 6 triples in that period alone as he single-handedly turned a 21-30 halftime deficit into a 47-41 edge entering the payoff period.
Almost everyone knew the Tigers were in for a second half run, but nobody expected a record-setting Ferrer blast – except Ferrer, who felt the surge through his veins.
"I got my confidence when I made my free throws, I felt my hands catch fire," Ferrer explained in Filipino about what sparked his run. "My teammates gave me confidence, they kept looking for me. So I want to thank my teammates for trusting me."
His 24-point third quarter is the most in a period since Imperium began handling UAAP stats in 2003, per league statistician Pong Ducanes.
By the second triple, Ferrer brought the Tigers to within a point and the UST gallery was in a frenzy. By the third it seemed Ferrer was due for a heat check. But by the 4th and 5th treys, it was clear the Ferrer inferno would not simply die down.
And when he buried his 6th and final 3-pointer late in the third, most of the 21,933-strong humans inside the Big Dome had lost their minds.
"It was just my muscle memory. That's all I was doing," Ferrer tried to put into words how he felt during the stretch where he took in the electric atmosphere – arms wide as if to hug every person watching, mouth open, tongue wagging like he's done so through the years.
"I couldn't describe it. I was just shooting it and that was what I was practicing during training and it came out."
Kevin Ferrer tries to explain how he felt his hands catch fire in Game 2 @rapplerdotcom #UAAPFinals pic.twitter.com/rVThGDiR3C — Jane Bracher (@janebracher) November 28, 2015
Former UST coach Pido Jarencio's halftime pep talk might have helped motivate Ferrer and the rest of the Tigers, who now extended the series to a winner-take-all Game 3 on Wednesday, December 2.
"Of course he's our former coach, and you see him there and he's all out support," Ferrer said. "It gave us confidence."
Ferrer tied his career-high 29 points to lead all scorers along with 10 rebounds and two assists. He had just one point in the payoff period but his teammates took it from there, overturning a 54-50 FEU edge with under 5 minutes left.
It also may have had something to do with friend and rival Kiefer Ravena sharing the MVP trophy with him before the game.
"I'm happy because we've been together since high school and were opponents since high school," said the national team cadet. "I was surprised too that he made me co-MVP."
Either way, Ferrer's hot hands are responsible for one more game in the UAAP Finals – and a potential great comeback story to remember. – Rappler.com