MANILA -- University of Santo Tomas completely squandered University of the Philippines' twice-to-beat advantage in the UAAP men's basketball stepladder playoffs and barged its way to the finals with a hard-earned 68-65 win on Wednesday night at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The Growling Tigers survived a fourth-quarter rally from the Fighting Maroons and Renzo Subido buried a triple in the dying seconds to preserve the win.
UST will face undefeated Ateneo de Manila University in the best-of-three championship series.
The Growling Tigers appeared to have shut down UP in the first quarter, holding its opponent to just six points in the first quarter.
But the Fighting Maroons slowly crawled back and even led, 65-61, with 1:53 left in the game.
However, foul trouble hounded Bright Akhuetie, Noah Webb suffered cramps, and a huge 24-second violation proved to be costly for UP as the Growling Tigers scored five straight points including Subido's shot from way out against Akhuetie's outstretched arm that gave them a 66-65 lead with 23.6 seconds left.
Javi Gomez De Liano had a chance to give UP the lead back, but he muffed an open putback, and Chabi Yo made two crucial free throws with 4.4 seconds remaining for the final tally.
James Spencer tried to force overtime, but missed the potential equalizer from long range as time expired.
Chabi Yo finished with 22 points, 16 rebounds, one assist, one block, and one steal for UST, which became the third team to enter the playoffs as the fourth seed to make the finals.
Subido added 14 points, four rebounds, two assists, and one steal.
Akhuetie led UP with 16 markers, 17 boards, four dimes, and two steals.
UST 68 -- Chabi Yo 22, Subido 14, Nonoy 12, Abando 11, Ando 3, Cansino 2, Concepcion 2, Paraiso 2, Bataller 0, Huang 0.
UP 65 -- Akhuetie 16, Manzo 12, Rivero 12, Ju. Gomez de Liano 8, Paras 8, Spencer 3, Ja. Gomez de Liano 2, Prado 2, Webb 2, Murrell 0, Tungcab 0.
Quarters: 18-6, 29-28, 49-44, 68-65. (PNA)