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Warriors shock Tigers

Games Saturday
(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
2 p.m. – UE vs Adamson
4 p.m. – FEU vs UST

University of the East turned to an unlikely hero in Clark Derige and pulled off a shock 91-77 upset of second-running University of Santo Tomas yesterday to keep its fading Final Four hopes alive in the UAAP basketball tournament at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Derige, who entered the game averaging just 4.6 points and 4.4 rebounds in 15.2 minutes of action, scored a career-high 26 points while hauling down six rebounds as the Red Warriors foiled the Growling Tigers’ rally in the fourth to come away with the much-needed victory.

UE improved to 4-7 for sixth place, moving a game behind La Salle (5-6) in the race for fourth spot in the standings despite a big blunder by Paul Varilla, who scored on his team’s own basket after tipoff.

The Red Warriors need to win their last three matches against Adamson, Ateneo and University of the Philippines to remain in the hunt.

“As I’ve told the boys, we have to play with a sense of urgency,” said UE coach Derrick Pumaren. “We know we still have a shot at making the Final Four, maybe to tie for the last slot but we have to play with a sense of urgency.”

He was pleased that Derige was able to deliver a breakout game for the Warriors.

The small forward scored nine during a backbreaking 18-6 run to end the game. This came after UST reduced a 65-52 deficit to just 73-71 on a Kevin Ferrer triple with 2:47 remaining in the contest.

Derige answered with a three of his own on the next play before conspiring with Nick Abanto to deal the Tigers their third defeat in 12 matches.

“Clark was making those tough shots,” said Pumaren. “I know he can make those shots. He just have to give full concentration every game and he has to play consistent basketball. That’s been the story for us this season, we weren’t playing consistent ball.”

Varilla put a bizarre start to the contest when the confused forward scored on UE’s own goal following the opening tipoff.

Luckily for Varilla, the blunder didn’t hurt UE’s chances of winning the game.

“Maybe it inspired us,” Pumaren said in jest.

Chris Javier added 13 points and four blocks while Varilla and Abanto chipped in 10 markers apiece.

Karim Abdul finished with 25 points and 15 rebounds for UST.

Meanwhile, University of the Philippines fended off a late University of Santo Tomas fightback to eke out a 61-59 victory, to extend their winning streak to four games in women’s basketball while the Lady Bulldogs overwhelmed Ateneo, 70-43.

In other games, early semifinalist De La Salle routed Adamson University, 78-62, for its 10th win in 11 outings, while University of the East nipped Far Eastern University, 44-41, to boost its own semis bid.

UE 91 – Derige 26, Javier 13, Abanto 10, Varilla P 10, Batiller 9, Charcos 8, Manalang 6, Palma 4, Gagate 2, Varilla J 2, Sta. Ana 1.

UST 77 – Abdul 25, Daquioag 11, Ferrer 10, Vigil 9, Lee 9, Lao 6, Sheriff 4, Bonleon 2, Subido 1, Garrido 0.
Quarters: 20-15; 39-38; 62-52; 91-77. CHRISTIAN JACINTO)