University of Santo Tomas weathered a season-high performance from Josee Kaputu to book a 106-85 win over Far Eastern University and stay in the hunt for a twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 86 women’s basketball tournament on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Meanwhile, De La Salle University salvaged some pride when it pulled off a 67-61 win over archrival Ateneo de Manila University.
More than avenging their tough 87-80 overtime loss to the Blue Eagles on 4 October, the Lady Archers also slammed the door on the Blue Eagles’ twice-to-beat aspirations while claiming their sixth win in 13 matches.
The Tigresses, who extended their winning streak to three games, improved to 10-3 to occupy the second spot, half-game ahead of University of the Philippine, which is still clashing with also-run University of the East at press time.
They are also half-game behind National University, which leads the team standings with a 11-1 win-loss card.
UST can either clinch or force a playoff for the second Final Four incentive when they face Ateneo de Manila University this Saturday at the same Cubao venue.
“We need to win one more game versus Ateneo,” Tigresses head coach Haydee Ong said.
“It’s very crucial for all the teams in the Final Four who are vying for a twice-to-beat advantage because UP, Ateneo, and UST have a very big chance of having the twice-to-beat advantage so we wanted to prepare for Ateneo for Saturday and hopefully we’ll get the twice-to-beat advantage.”
But booking the lopsided win was never easy.
UST had some scary moments early on and had to survive the 37-point, 15-rebound explosion of Congolese center Kaputu to secure the victory.
The league’s previous season-high was Jhazmin Joson’s 32-point output when she towed Ateneo to a victory over Adamson University last week.
“Kaputu is one of the best foreign student-athletes in the league,” said Ong, who drew 20 points, seven assists, six steals, and four rebounds from Brigette Santos while Tantoy Ferrer and Nikka Villasin scored 15 points each.
“I told the players that we cannot let Kaputu shoot from inside and other players shoot from the three-point area. We have to choose whether we will defend the inside or the outside. I think that’s what happened in the third quarter, then we made some adjustments in the last quarter.”