THE UST Growling Tigers failed to secure the last playoff spot after a 79-72 loss against the FEU Tamaraws in the 17th Filoil EcoOil Preseason Cup at the Filoil EcoOil Centre on Thursday, June 6.

UST finished in fifth place with a 3-4 win-loss record, while FEU captured the final playoff spot with a 4-3 record.

“We’re glad we joined FilOil. We were able to see the things we need to improve on and the things we can continue to do and know where we’re good at,” UST assistant coach Jeric Fortuna told the Varsitarian. “There’s still a lot of things we have to improve on.”

“On offense, we need to learn more on how to get everyone involved, more ball movement, how to pick our spots, and be disciplined not to rush our shots. On defense naman, being tough and communicating, especially on ball screens, pick-and-rolls, rotations and rebounding.”

FEU pulled away early and maintained distance from the Tigers after outscoring them 40-31 by halftime.

A poor defensive performance in the third quarter put UST to a 17-point deficit, 64-47.

The Tigers mounted a comeback with 3:40 to go in the fourth salvo after Forthsky Padrigao’s three-pointer and Nic Cabanero’ floater cut FEU’s lead back to single digits, 73-65.

However, UST could not keep the Tamaraws from scoring for the remainder of the game, eventually relinquishing the final playoff spot.

FEU was efficient the whole game, sinking 34 out 63 attempts from the field, good for 53 percent. The Tigers only made 36 percent of their shots on 27-of-73 shooting.

Cabanero and Padrigao paced the Tigers with 17 and 15 points, respectively.

UST’s Peter Osang tallied a double-double with 10 points and 14 boards.

After Osang and Mo Tounkara’s recent performances in the preseason tournament, Fortuna said that the coaching staff has not yet reached a final decision between the two imports who will be playing for the upcoming UAAP Season 87.

“As of now, there’s no decision yet, we still have two months to decide on that. Basta everyday, everyone, not only the imports, they have to fight for their spot,” he said.

Francis Pre led FEU with 22 points, while Jorick Bautista and Mohamed Konateh each registered 12 markers. The Tamaraws will face the top-seeded UP Fighting Maroons in the quarterfinals of the UAAP bracket.