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Belo, Pogoy gang up on Maroons, keep Tams atop standings



After much experimenting, Nash Racela relied on FEU seniors Mac Belo and Roger Pogoy to stave-off the upset-minded University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons in a 68-57 victory to keep the Far Eastern University Tamaraws atop the standings early Wednesday evening at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

FEU head coach Nash Racela played 15 of his players in the first half of this game. The result was disastrous in the first quarter of the game as some of the lineups did not mesh for the Tamaraws. The duo of Jett Manuel and Paul Desiderio took advantage of this in the opening quarter as they led the Maroons to a 19-17 lead to end the first quarter.

Cebuano Roger Pogoy gave the Tamaraws the steady presence needed by the team to keep pace with the hungry Maroons. Pogoy scored five in the second quarter, including a three-pointer that gave FEU a 27-23 lead, while former SWU standout Monbert Arong provided the firepower off the bench. Moreover, the Tamaraw defense locked down the paint to force the Maroons to long jumpshots. After an excellent first quarter, the Maroons were limited to just nine points in the second quarter and numerous turnovers that gave the lead to the Tamaraws to enter halftime, 33-28.

Manuel opened the third quarter with two straight buckets that sparked a 6-0 run for the hosts to open the third quarter. Moreover, the FEU defense relaxed in the third quarter as Diego Dario converted on back-to-back penetrations that extended the UP blitz to a 12-6 rally that gave UP a 40-39 lead. Free throws by Arong and a putback off a Ron Dennison miss by Pogoy gave the Tamaraws a 43-40 lead to enter the final frame.

Limited to just three points in the first three quarter, Mac Belo then turned it up in the final quarter as he was aggressive in slashing through the lanes and running hard on the break. Belo led the Tamaraw charge in a 20-6 blitz that broke the game wide open. Belo scored nine points in the rally highlighted by a huge coast-to-coast layup plus the harm. The rally gave FEU a 63-46 lead with 3:51 remaining. Trying to make a final rally, Henry Asilum tried to make a final push but questionable shot selection from him plus momentum breaking layups by Mike Tolomia gave FEU their eighth win in nine games, 68-57.

For FEU head coach Nash Racela, they are not thinking about the wins as they want to take it one game at a time. “We are still looking for improvements. We also talked about this as a team the other night that we need to improve every game.”

This was a sentiment shared by Belo, who had a statline of 12 points, on 5/8 shooting and 12 boards, and Pogoy, the topscorer for the Tamaraws with 17 markers on 70% shooting, after the game. “Nag-aadjust na yung mga team sa amin,” Pogoy remarked. “Sabi nga ni coach mas mahirap yung second round.” Belo then said that they too should adjust to the other teams especially on defense.

Coach Nash Racela though admitted that he was tinkering with his lineups during the game. “Yes I was experimenting,” he confessed. “But it’s not because ‘madali ang kalaban’. It’s because it will help develop the team and help us down the road.”

For the Maroons, spitfire sophomore Diego Dario led the team with 16 points. He was 7/12 from the field but had six glaring turnovers. Smart Elite ambassador Jett Manuel added 11 points but was just 4/11 from the field.

As a team, the Tamaraws shot 36.76% from the field compared to just 32.39% for the season hosts. However, the Tamaraws were able to outrebound their opponents 52-42 that led to a 13-2 advantage in second chance points.

The FEU Tamaraws (8-1) will have a tough task ahead as they face the DLSU Green Archers (5-4) while the UP Maroons (3-6) face the UE Red Warriors (3-6). Both games will be played at the SM Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday, October 18.

The Scores:
FEU (68) – Pogoy 17, Belo 12, Tolomia 11, Tamsi 9, Arong 8, Escoto Ru. 5, Jose 4, Orizu 2, Comboy 0, Dennison 0, Ebona 0, Escoto Ri. 0, Holmqvist K. 0, Inigo 0, Trinidad 0.
UP (57) – Dario 16, Manuel 11, Desiderio 8, Asilum 6, Kone 4, Amar 3, Juruena 3, Gallarza 3, Harris 2, Moralde 2, Jaboneta 0, Lim 0, Longa 0, Vito 0.
Quarterscores: 17-19, 33-28, 43-40, 68-57.

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