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UST routs NU, books championship match vs. FEU

UST skipper Kevin Ferrer scored 11 points as the Tigers enter the finals for the third time in four seasons, winning over NU 64-55. Dennis Jerome Acosta/Dugout Philippines
By Alex Cerado

QUEZON CITY--The UST Growling Tigers survived a late-game meltdown and defanged National University, 64-55, en route to a ticket to the Finals in the UAAP men's basketball tournament at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum Sunday. 

Louie Vigil shone and chipped in 19 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists, while skipper Kevin Ferrer and Jamil Sheriff added 11 and 10, respectively. 

The Bulldogs showed a glimpse of life in the final quarter after Jeoff Javillonar unloaded a three-pointer in the 4:11 mark to cut UST's lead to just nine, 41-50.
But Vigil proved to be a force to reckon for NU after converting a fastbreak off a steal to zoom in their lead to 11, 52-41. 

With the clock not on their side, the Bulldogs had no choice but to foul UST playmaker Jamil Sheriff.  

NU was successful in slowing down the time, while Sheriff kept on missing his free throws. 
The defending champion scored two more field goals to make it a two-possession ball game, 50-56, with 1:07 remaining in the game. 

Vigil later made three free throws to hand UST a breather, 61-52. 
In the ensuing play, Pao Javelona buried an enormous trey to cut the lead to six, 61-55, with 37 seconds left in regulation.

Marvin Lee put the icing on the cake after making two charities to bring back the Tigers to the Finals for the third time in four seasons, 64-55. 

"Going back to the Finals kailangan naming trabahuin yan. Malakas ang FEU kaya dapat paghandaan namin yan," coach Bong Dela Cruz said.

In the pivotal third frame, the EspaƱa ballers regained a 13-point edge after a three-pointer from Ferrer, 33-20.

Vigil later ignited a 5-0 run of his own to give UST its biggest advantage, 44-29. 
The Tigers quickly took the driver's seat in the second period after a 10-2 blitz, capped by a Vigil drive en route to a nine-point advantage, 25-16. 

In the first quarter, UST held a 15-2 lead in the first five minutes of the game until Jess Diputado piloted a 10-0 run to trim the deficit to three, 12-15. 

"Sobrang saya dahil last year na namin. Gagawin namin ang makakaya namin para bigyan namin sila ng magandang laban," Ferrer said. 

Box Scores:

UST 64-Vigil 19, Ferrer 11, Sheriff 10, Daquioag 8, Abdul 6, Bonleon 5, Lee 5, Lao 0, Faundo 0

NU 55-Javelona 17, Alejandro 8, Aroga 7, Diputado 7, Alolino 6, Javillonar 5, Neypes 3, Celda 2, Abatayo 0, Salim 0, Morido 0

Quarterscores: 15-12, 30-29, 44-32, 64-55

Follow the writer on twitter: @AlexCerado