The University of Santo Tomas has proven that it’s not just a dark horse, but rather, a legitimate contender at this UAAP Season 82 Men’s Basketball Tournament, laying waste to the University of the Philippines with an 85-69 win last Saturday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Tomasino Mark Nonoy led the Growling Tigers’ rampage as the super rookie unloaded 16 points, five rebounds, and two assists to steer his side to a 2-0 standing.

Beninese big man Soulemane Chabi Yo also did his part inside as he posted 18 points, 18 rebounds, two steals, one assist, and one block to help USTe deliver a statement against last season’s silver medalists.

Senior playmaker Renzo Subido also shot 3-of-6 from distance to wound up with 13 points, three rebounds, and three assists, uber-athletic forward Rhenz Abando added 12 points, seven boards, three blocks, two assists, and two steals, and Dave Ando got 10 points and three rebounds for the Espana side.

It was a tight affair in the fourth period, which saw Jun Manzo put UP within five, 74-69, with 4:03 remaining.

But that proved to be the Fighting Maroons’ last hurrah, with the Growling Tigers holding them scoreless for the remainder of the game before scoring 11 straight points to put the nail in the coffin.

Still, coach Aldin Ayo refuses to buy on his side’s hype, acknowledging that it’s still too early to brand UST as a legitimate threat to Ateneo’s throne.

“Hindi ko iniisip na statement kasi siguro on paper, very talented talaga yung UP. Pero lahat naman napaghahandaan. Isang laro lang naman ito, meron pang dose pa,” he said, with his sights focusing on the game against the Blue Eagles slated on Wednesday.

Bright Akhuetie poured 19 points, 16 rebounds, and three assists for UP, which continued to miss the services of Kobe Paras.
Javi Gomez de Liano chimed in 15 points and eight boards, as Jaydee Tungcab had 11 points and four rebounds in the losing cause.

The Scores:

UST:     85 — Chabi Yo 18, Nonoy 16, Subido 13, Abando 12, Ando 10, Huang 9, Paraiso 6, Cansino 1, Bataller 0, Concepcion 0, Cosejo 0, Cuajao 0.
UP:       69 — Akhuetie 19, Ja. Gomez de Liano 15, Tungcab 11, Murrell 6, Ju. Gomez de Liano 5, Manzo 5, Rivero 4, Webb 4, Gozum 0, Jaboneta 0, Mantilla 0, Prado 0, Spencer 0.

Quarterscores: 19-15, 44-37, 63-58, 85-69.