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Growling Tigers blast Maroons for third win

University of Santo Tomas (UST) seized its first win streak in three years after pulverizing University of the Philippines (UP), 86-72, in Season 81 University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men’s basketball on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

Star rookie CJ Cansino dished out a stellar effort, leading the Growling Tigers to their first back-to-back wins since Season 78 and a share of the fifth spot with the Fighting Maroons on an improved 3-4 record to close the first round.

Cansino, last year’s UAAP juniors MVP, exploded with a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds to go with seven assists and two steals. He shot an efficient 5-of-6 from the field in 30 minutes of play.

“I’m just doing my role and the best that I can. I’m doing my best to do what coach said for me to help the team,” said the athletic 19-year old cager.

Head coach Aldin Ayo said the team dedicated the huge win to ailing big man Steve Akomo, who is confined at the school’s hospital due to blood clot in the brain, and the community as a whole.

“Of course, this for Steve. This for UST,” said Ayo, who marked his first streak with the España-based squad.

Veteran playmaker Renzo Subido racked up 13 points, six assists and three rebounds, transferee guard Ken Zamora fired a career-high 12 markers built on four triples and skipper Marvin Lee added 11 points in the wire-to-wire win.

Ayo drew scoring contributions from all but one of the 12 players he deployed as UST tallied its season-high in points to post a fitting follow-up to its 80-66 victory over University of the East.

“Everybody came out to play today. Almost all of my players, they played well. We executed our game plan and were playing as a team,” said Ayo.

The Tigers roared to a 23-11 start on Subido’s back-to-back three-pointers and stretched their lead to 52-27 on Cansino’s free throws late in the second quarter.

Subido wowed the crowd with a spin move en route to a three-point play and Cansino drained a shot clock buzzer-beating trey to spark a 9-0 blast that gave UST its biggest buffer at 71-41 with 3:30 left in the third frame.

Ayo’s men would never lose hold of a double-digit advantage as the Maroons only managed to move within 14 points late in the game.

Bright Akhuetie logged his fourth straight double-double outing as the Nigerian center finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds while Javi Gomez De Liaño and Diego Dario had 12 and 10 markers for UP.

With stalwarts Juan Gomez De Liaño, Paul Desiderio and Jun Manzo held to their season-lows, Bo Perasol’s Maroons saw their two-game streak snapped as they slid to 3-4.


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