THE UST Growling Tigers dropped to a league-worst 0-6 record after a 115-86 blowout against the De La Salle Green Archers on Saturday, Sept. 30.
Reigning MVP Ben Mbala led the Archers with 29 points and 9 rebounds in his anticipated match-up with Cameroonian countryman Steve Akomo, who had 15 markers and 13 boards for UST.
Oliver de Guzman led the Tigers with a career-high 18 points.
La Salle led by as much as 31 points against the winless Tigers, who had 35 turnovers.
The loss gave UST its worst start in the Final Four era.
The Tigers will try to salvage a win before the end of the first round against fellow cellar-dweller University of the East Red Warriors on Oct. 7, Saturday, 2 p.m., at the Mall of Asia Arena.
By the numbers
The Tigers remain winless in six games.
With a mix of eight new faces and eight veterans, UST is still finding its ground and the right flavor of chemistry in the court after dropping to last place in league standings.
“Doon kami siguro nagkakaproblema, sa team chemistry. Although ‘yung laro namin, ‘yung puso ng bawat isang player, I believe nasa kanila na. It’s just a matter of time para ma-develop pa [at] mag-improve,” Sablan told the Varsitarian.
One of the Tigers’ primary troubles this season is controlling the ball. They averaged a league-worst 28.7 turnovers per game so far, highlighted by a season-high 41 errors against Adamson University last Sept. 16.
The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons are behind UST with 20.8 after four outings.
UST is also second-worst league in outside-shooting, tallying 23.8 percent from three-point range.
Despite a league-best 50.0 rebounds per game, the Tigers’ height has not been factor due to their inability to close out games.
In their matches against UP, Ateneo, National University and Far Eastern University, UST either trailed or led by five points or less after the third quarter.
“Siguro [dapat] ‘wag lang kami ma-pressure sa mga press [defense] nila. [Dapat] masunod ‘yung game plan ni coach kasi sa defense okay [naman] kami, pero pagdating saendgame, ‘di namin ma-execute,” Macasaet said in an interview with the Varsitarian.
Despite the fumbles and the team crashing to last place, Sablan remained positive of his wards’ development.
“Hindi kami nagpa-panic kasi ‘yung development ng players ko ay napakalaki. Hindi lang naman ako ang nagsasabi niyan, kahit coaches from other teams iba ‘yung nakita nila,” the two-year tactician added.
With the departure of gunmen Embons Bonleon and Renzo Subido, the Tigers found refuge in guard Jordan Sta. Ana and the emergence of bigman Jeepy Faundo.
Sta. Ana led the Tigers in scoring so far with 14.2 points per game (ppg), while consistently putting up double-digit numbers every game. Team captain Marvin Lee followed suit with 12.6 ppg.
Faundo is averaging 10.7 ppg and nine rebounds per game (rpg), a marked improvement from his 5.5 ppg and 6.5 rpg averages last season.
“Hindi ko tinitignan ‘yung points, ang importante ay manalo. Sabi ko sa kanila, hindi pa diyan nagtatapos lahat. Ito lang ‘yung paraan para tumibay kami [at] para magsama-sama kami. Marami pa kaming remaining games para bumawi,” Sta. Ana said.