The University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers inched closer to a Final Four slot on Saturday, besting the Adamson Soaring Falcons, 80-74, at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
The win preserved UST’s chances for a twice-to-beat advantage in the semis and assured them of a possible playoff match with either La Salle and Far Eastern University in case they end up tied in the standings.
It wasn’t smooth sailing for coach Alvin Ayo’s wards as they squandered a 12-point cushion early in the fourth quarter. Turnovers nearly cost the Tigers in the end — particularly with the sloppy play of playmaker Mark Nonoy who was responsible for eight of those miscues.
But Ayo kept his faith on his 19-year-old rookie and kept him in the game in crunch time. Nonoy delivered as he he hit a crucial trey to keep Adamson at bay.
“I put Mark on a very crucial situation because knowing him, I know that he was cocky enough to make those shots, take those shots, because I know that he’s unconscious,” Ayo said post-game.
“Knowing him he’s just going to play basketball eh without realizing the magnitude of the situation. He’s going to commit turnovers pero isa to sa mga players ko na buo yung loob, walang pakialam, he’s just going to play basketball.”
Despite his numerous miscues, Nonoy still finished with a team-high 17 points to go along with eight rebounds and five assists. The 5’8 speedster admitted that he could have done a much better job at protecting the rock, but acknowledged that mistakes are part of the game.
“Sa mga mistakes ko dun din ako kumukuha ng kumpyansa kasi kung di dahil sa mga pagkakamali di ko rin matatama mga mali ko. Thankful ako kasi nandyan mga coaches, sila coach na nagaadvise sa akin na kahit anong mali ko sinasabi sakin para mag improve ako as a player,” he shared.
UST finished its eliminations campaign with an 8-6 slate and will now await UP, DLSU, and FEU to finish their remaining games to determine the final positioning.