University of Sto. Tomas ran fast and raged furious, Wednesday at Araneta Coliseum, and Far Eastern University just couldn't keep up as the former pulled off a hardfought 81-71 triumph over the latter to power through to the next phase of the stepladder playoffs in the UAAP 82 Men's Basketball Tournament.
Soulemane Chabi Yo was near-unstoppable with a career-best 25 points while Brent Paraiso and Renzo Subido were also on-point, shooting the Growling Tigers over the Tamaraws in their knockout bout with a faceoff with second-seed and twice-to-beat University of the Philippines on the line.
"He's not gonna slow down. That's what I know about him," head coach Aldin Ayo said about the school's first MVP in a decade. "When he said that he wants the championship more, he really means it."
Just at the half, UST already had nine treys and had 54 points in total compared to their opponents' output of 28 markers.
In the second half, however, it was FEU's turn to catch fire as L-Jay Gonzales energized them to just down five, 65-70, inside the last seven minutes.
Fortunately for the Growling Tigers, Chabi Yo, Renzo Subido, and Mark Nonoy had the response, conspiring for eight unanswered points to re-increase their lead to 78-65 with under two minutes left.
Still, the Tamaraws wouldn't quit and Ken Tuffin and Xyrus Torres went back-to-back from deep to pull them within seven, 71-78, with 44 ticks to go.
It was at that point that Zachy Huang and Paraiso finished the job once and for all by making good on 3-of-4 free throws. "Nothing comes easy. Itong laro na 'to, akala namin madali na, pero FEU kalaban namin e at 'di nila basta-basta binigay," coach Aldin said.
In the end, Chabi Yo also added 11 rebounds and three assists just hours after he was announced as Season MVP.
Paraiso then had 18 points five assists while Subido had 14 markers, five boards, and three assists.
UST now moves on to another must-win matchup, this time up against the Fighting Maroons on Sunday at the same venue.
For FEU, Tuffin topped the scoring column with 20 points while Gonzales contributed 11 markers, nine assists, and three rebounds.
Playing in their last games in green and gold, Hubert Cani had 10 points; Barkley Ebona had nine markers and seven rebounds; and Wendell Comboy had eight points, seven boards, and two assists.
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.
QUARTER SCORES: 26-16, 54-28, 70-56, 81-71.
Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.