(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
12 noon – FEU vs Adamson (women’s)
4 p.m. – UP vs UST (men’s)
University of Santo Tomas overcame Far Eastern University’s third-quarter surge to prevail 81-71 on Wednesday in the first stepladder semifinals of UAAP season 82 men’s basketball at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Tigers gnashed their teeth and dug in after seeing their 57-31 cushion trimmed down to 70-65 with 6:37 left in the game, hanging on to dispatch the Tamaraws and arrange a semis meeting with second seed University of the Philippines Maroons on Sunday.
Soulemane Chabi Yo, who was earlier named season Most Valuable Player, steered the España-based crew with 25 points on 10-of-17 shooting while grabbing 11 rebounds and three assists, while Brent Paraiso chipped in 18 points highlighted by five triples.
UST coach Aldin Ayo lauded his players’ hard work.
“Nothing comes easy,” he said. “FEU kalaban namin. Hindi basta bibigay yan and they’re well-coached.”
The Tigers knocked down six of 14 triples in the opening quarter for a 26-16 lead and continued this pace at the half 54-28 behind the efforts of Chabi Yo and Paraiso.
But the Tamaraws regrouped entering the third as Ken Tuffin and Wendell Comboy took turns in draining treys to slowly cut down the double-digit deficit.
FEU further threatened in the last 38 seconds after back-to-back treys from Tuffin and Xyrus Torres to cut down the deficit to 78-71, but it turned out to be their last stand.
Subido finished with 14 points, Rhenz Abando had nine points and eight boards, and CJ Cansino hauled down 10 rebounds.
Tuffin finished with 20 points while LJ Gonzales and Huberto Cani merged for 21 in a losing effort for FEU.
“We played the worst first half of our lives. Nasingil na kami nung fourth quarter. Nakahabol nga kami pero kinapos na sa huli eh,” said graduating FEU player Wendell Comboy.
UST 81 — Chabi Yo 25, Paraiso 18, Subido 14, Abando 9, Nonoy 6, Huang 4, Bataller 3, Cansino 2, Ando 0, Concepcion 0, Cuajao 0.
FEU 71 — Tuffin 20, Gonzales 11, Cani 10, Ebona 9, Comboy 8, Torres 8, Tchuente 5, Alforque 0, Bayquin 0, Bienes 0, Stockton 0.
Quarters: 26-16, 54-28, 70-56, 81-71.