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Battle-tested Tamaraws school upstart Maroons

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Up by just four points midway through the final quarter, the veteran Far Eastern University quintet of Reymar Jose, Mac Belo, Roger Pogoy, Mike Tolomia, and Achie Inigo blasted the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons with a game-breaking 12-0 run to eventually take the victory, 75-58, early Sunday evening at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

The grinding pace of the Fighting Maroons went into full effect in the first quarter. The Diliman cagers were spearheaded by Jet Manuel’s attacks to gain an early 6-3 lead. However, the UP zone defense was disrupted by hard penetrations by transferee Monbert Arong. Slowly, the Tamaraws were able to gain the lead as Cheick Kone was called for an unsportsmanlike foul that led to a split by Prince Orizu and a 13-6 FEU led. The five minute scoring drought of the Maroons ended with a fast break lay up by Paul Desiderio at the 1:37 mark of the quarter. The quarter ended with FEU up 15-8.

A rainbow by Pio Longa opened the second quarter to cut the lead to just two. However, the Rensy Bajar-mentored squad could not take advantage of five consecutive turnovers by the yellow-and-green squad. Frustrated with his team’s turnovers, Orizu hammered down a huge two-handed jam over Agustini Amar for the hoop and the harm. Spitfire guard Diego Dario then powered the Fighting Maroons late in the quarter. The pint-sized guard went hard against the FEU defense resulting to jumpers and dishes. Later on, a putback by Mark Juruena and an and-one play by Jet Manuel gave UP the lead at 29-25. A desperation three-pointer though by Mike Tolomia ended the half with the Fighting Maroons up by just a solitary point, 29-28.

The Tamaraws gained a 40-34 lead over the upstarts midway through the third canto behind the stellar play of Inigo. The length of the UP zone disrupted the flow of their opponents offense soon after as the Tamaraws were only allowed to shoot long jumpers by the defense. The Maroons then blasted a 9-0 lighted by Paul Desiderio and capped by a pullup jumper by Dario. Coach Nash Racela then called a timeout that benched the team’s veterans. Roger Pogoy led a five of rookies and sophomores that blasted 11-0 rally. Pogoy recorded six points during the run that gave FEU a 51-45 lead to enter the final frame.

During the last quarter, the veteran five of Jose, Belo, Pogoy, Tolomia, and Inigo sparked a game-breaking 12-0 blast that gave FEU the lead 65-49 with 2:04 remaining. The familiarity off that lineup with each other resulted to excellent ball movement that freed a teammate up while the pressing defense resulted to forced turnovers. The rally was capped by a captivating alley-oop by Mac Belo to Jose for an and-one. All this happened as Jet Manuel was on the bench with UP moving to a pressing defense. Manuel and Dario returned to the game eventually but proved too late. In the closing minutes of the game, the inexperience of the Maroon showed as the team committed hard and technical fouls to end the game. The game ended with the score of 75-58 in favor of the Tamaraws.

“This was a hard earned win. Sabi namin this week will be as tough as last week since we are facing three teams that press,” FEU head coach Nash Racela said. “We are averaging 20 turnovers a game. Today was an improvement with 23 turnovers as we had 24 the last game,” he joked.

“Our second half defense was the key, madali for them nung first half. Nung second half umayos naman,” the coach remarked for the game. In addition, he praised the game of Reymar Jose as he said “Si Jose ang pinakamagaling na basurero.”

The Tamaraws had a balanced scoring outing with Tolomia and Jose leading the team with 11 markers each. Jose added 13 rebounds in this game. Smart Elite ambassador Mac Belo added five points, seven boards, and four dimes as well.

For the now 2-2 Maroons, Jet Manuel led the team with 16 points in just 19 minutes. He was 5/12 from the field and 5/6 from the charity stripe. Diego Dario added 10 points.

The FEU Tamaraws (3-1) will next face the UE Red Warriors (2-2) in the Battle of the East on Wednesday, September 23 at 2:00pm while the UP Fighting Maroons (2-2) will have the NU Bulldogs (1-3) in their next assignment on Saturday, September 26 at 2:00pm.

The Scores: 
FEU (75) – Jose 11, Tolomia 11, Inigo 10, Pogoy 10, Orizu 8, Arong 7, Belo 5, Ru. Escoto 5, Tamsi 5, Ri. Escoto 2, Comboy 1, Dennison 0, Trinidad 0.
UP (58) – Manuel 16, Dario 10, Desiderio 9, Lim 8, Harris 3, Juruena 3, Longa 3, Asilum 2, Kone 2, Moralde 2, Amar 0, Gallarza 0, Jaboneta 0, Prado 0, Vito 0, Webb 0.
Quarterscores: 13-8, 28-29, 51-45, 75-58.

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