MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) — Kevin Ferrer exploded in the second half and the University of Santo Tomas formally clinched the twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four after routing Adamson University, 78-63, in the men's basketball tournament of UAAP Season 78 on Wednesday, November 11 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Growling Tigers finished the elimination round at 11-3 with a chance to still grab the top seed should the FEU Tamaraws lose at least one of its remaining two games.
Team captain Ferrer bucked a 6-point first half and scored 12 of UST's 20 points in the third quarter to end up with a game-high 25 points. Ferrer knocked down all 4 of his triples in the second half and added 10 rebounds, 3 assists, and two steals.
"We told ourselves we will build some momentum for the Final Four through this game and would continue what we did from the FEU game," Ferrer said in Filipino. "But we are not satisfied with our performance. We will improve on that.
"We badly wanted to get the twice-to-beat. We will wait for whoever our opponent will be and prepare for them," added head coach Bong Dela Cruz in Filipino.
Louie Vigil logged heavy minutes and rested for only 1.5 minutes to wind up with 15 points, 4 boards, 4 assists and a steal.
Ed Daquioag chipped in 11 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 blocks though he did turn the ball over 6 times.
Big man Karim Abdul had a quiet 9 markers and 4 boards. He looks forward to taking the Tigers back to the Finals after its last back-to-back appearances in Seasons 75 and 76.
"This is just the start. We're not aiming to just be here. We're aiming for the Finals," said Abdul.
The Tigers, who re-established its long reputation as the "Comeback Cats" with a number of heart-stopping come-from-behind victories, made its most important comeback in a Final Four return after missing the semis last season.
Dela Cruz, who was in his first season as head coach last year following the departure of 8-year coach Pido Jarencio, is relieved to be back but also eager to put in more work.
"Personally last year we were very down. But now we achieved the twice-to-beat and we won't stop there. We will continue working hard at practice," said Dela Cruz, adding he will find a way to keep his team ready for anything despite the long layoff.
He also emphasized the Tigers will work on improving their defense in preparation for the semifinals.
UST led by as much as 25, 73-48, in the fourth period as they constantly turned back every Adamson rally throughout the contest.
Center Pape Sarr led the Soaring Falcons with a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds while Nico Capote added 10 markers and 9 boards.
Dawn Ochea scored all 9 of his points from the free throw line as Joseph Nalos and Frederick Tungcab added 8 apiece.
Adamson failed to capitalize on an inspiring win over the UE Red Warriors and wrapped up its season with a 3-11 record.
UST (78): Ferrer 25, Vigil 15, Daquioag 11, Abdul 9, Lao 6, Bonleon 5, Faundo 4, Lee 3, Sheriff 0, Subido 0, Arana 0, Caunan 0, Aburasad 0, Garrido 0, Huang 0, Suarez 0.
Adamson (63): Sarr 12, Capote 10, Ochea 9, Nalos 8, Tungcab 8, Polican 5, Fernandez 4, J. Garcia 3, Villanueva 2, Bernardo 1, Margallo 0, C. Garcia 0, Escalambre 0, Miranda 0.
Quarter scores: 21-14, 37-26, 57-44, 78-63.