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USC shows grit against UST, advances to PCCL Final 4

Japhet Lim/CESAFI (file photo)
By JA Espiritu

SAN JUAN, MM--CESAFI champions USC Warriors showed composure and their championship heart to remain as the lone non-Metro Manila participant in the race for this year’s PCCL crown with an 82-72 takedown of the UST Growling Tigers in the national quarterfinals at the FilOil Flying V Arena on Tuesday.

Karim Abdul’s absence was felt miserably during the payoff period when USC stalwart Shooster Olago started flexing his muscles inside.

UST actually kept the game close for the first three quarters because of their deadly three-point sniping, but during the fourth, USC took advantage of Olago’s height advantage.

The UAAP runner-up started off hot, converting five three-pointers in the opening seven minutes of the ball game and gaining an 18-11 advantage. Kevin Ferrer had three rainbow connections on that scoring barrage.

But USC used a 18-8 run bridging the final two minutes of 1st quarter till midway thru the second highlighted by stellar post-up plays of Olago and Will McAloney to post a 29-26 lead.

Then Ferrer hit another three and found Louie Vigil underneath to regain the lead 31-29. UST took a 34-33 lead into halftime via a triple of seldom used guard Jonrey Garrido.

The Growling Tigers continued their hot shooting from the arc with three long bombs led by Kent Lao’s back-to-back connections to take a 45-43 lead midway thru the third quarter.

Then USC quickened the pace of their game and made it a scrappy and free flowing tempo that help get them to a 57-51 lead entering the fourth via a 14-6 run.

USC would blow the game wide open in the fourth and withstood UST's final push.

Shooster Olago dominated the Abdul-less Tigers, finishing with a 19-point 15-rebound, and four-block game. Will McAloney, Charles Pepito, Esquire Toyambi all contributed double digit outputs in points as well.

Graduating Tigers Ed Daquioag and Ferrer paced UST with 17 and 16 respectively. Lao also finished with 16, all coming in the second half.

The Warriors advanced to the PCCL Final Four and will face UAAP champs FEU Tamaraws on Wednesday.

Box Scores:

USC 82–Olago 19, McAloney 11, Pepito 10, Toyambi 10, Magat 7, Maconocido 7, Tagapan 6, Ortega 6, Laguyo 4, Rabat 2, Lim 0, Ecarma 0

UST 72–Daquioag 17, Ferrer 16, Lao 16, Lee 9, Vigil 6, Garrido 6, Arana 2, Bonleon 0, Sheriff 0, Faundo 0, Huang 0, Kakonda 0, Caunan 0, Abrasad 0

Quarterscores: 18-18, 33-34, 57-51, 82-72

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