THE UST Tiger Cubs succumbed to the Nazareth School of National University Bullpups, 86-75, in their battle-for-third in the Filoil Flying V Premier Cup last July 25.
The Cubs now hope to finish strong in the UAAP next season after they crashed to seventh place in 2016.
After landing third in the UAAP in 2012, the Cubs slid to sixth place in the next two seasons.
“Over all, the boys’ performance are good in all of the leagues we have joined this summer. I could not be more proud of the boys and the whole team. You will clearly see the big improvement from attitude to workmanship,” coach Chris Cantonjos told the Varsitarian.
The Cubs were riding high on a four-game winning streak at the beginning of the tournament, highlighted by a 41-point shellacking of the University of the East last May 17, before UAAP Mythical Five member Inand Fornilos transferred to La Salle Greenhills for reasons he did not want to disclose.
Since Fornilos’ departure, the Cubs lost three straight games, including a 67-79 loss to the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eaglets in their semifinals clash last June 23.
“Everyone, especially the veterans, are working hard to fill the void Fornilos left,” Cantonjos said. “The team takes one’s parting as a blessing in disguise. I was given a clearer view to what we are trying to teach our athletes today and what is more important to them. I have also seen the character and loyalty that the Cubs have with our school.”
Paulo Hernandez, who was included in the tournament’s Mythical Five team, paced the Tiger Cubs in scoring with 11.6 points per game (ppg) while Kobe Palencia and TJ dela Cruz tallied 9.6 and 7.4 ppg, respectively.
UST may also have also found a gem in big man Bismarck Lina, the lone Tiger Cub to be included in the Batang Gilas roster for the Southeast Asian Basketball Association Under-16 Championship last May 14 to 18.
Lina registered 13 points and 10 rebounds in the country’s 83-62 gold-medal winning performance against Malaysia.
“I’m happy because I learned a lot of experience in Gilas and I was able to bring it here in UST,” Lina said.
Cubs team captain CJ Balingit said he always reminds his teammates to do more of what is expected of them and they did not disappoint.
“[T]hey did well in the Filoil [Cup] and there is nothing to be down about. We know that we are able to compete heads on with other strong schools,” Balingit said.