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FEU Beats Reigning Champs La Salle to Open Season 77 Campaign

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The Far Eastern University Tamaraws edged reigning champions De La Salle University Green Archers, 82-77, in the second game of the University Athletics Association of the Philippine Season 77 Men’s Basketball Tournament. The Archers opened the game with a remarkable 23-10 lead to close the first quarter game, led by Arnold Van Opstal and Jason Perkins. La Salle would go on to maintain a steady lead with the help of Almond Vosotros. However, the Tamaraws would later on find a way to chip away at the Archers’ lead in Mark Belo, Russel Escoto, and Mike Tolomia, to bring FEU to 33-37 by the halftime break.

 

The second half saw the Tamaraws and the Archers trade baskets for most of the early third quarter, with Tolomia and Belo continuing their scoring barrage for FEU and Vosotros and Ike Montalbo holding the fort for La Salle. A Carl Cruz 3-pointer with four-and-a-half minutes left in the quarter would give FEU their first taste of the lead, 52-51. La Salle, spurred by Thomas Torres and Jeron Teng, managed to return FEU’s challenge and close out the quarter with a narrow 59-57 edge.

 

The last quarter of the game saw the two teams trade leads. However, would FEU take a crucial 75-71 lead, led by the continued heroics of  Tolomia and Belo. Consecutive turnovers from Teng and Perkins with less than three minutes prevented the Archers from turning the game around foresaw all hope of La Salle retaking the lead. FEU would hold on to an 82-77 lead to close out the game, after Norbert Torres failed to sink two crucial free throws with less than a minute remaining in the game.

 

“We started very slow. As coaches, wala kami magawa. It’s opening game. May gigil factor eh.“We just allowed them to play. Yun nga lang, lumalaki na yung lamang. Nung nakita na nila yung kailangan gawin, dun kami naka-recover.”, said FEU coach Nash Racela.”As coaches, responsibility namin i-manage yung inconsistencies namin.”

 

Mike Tolomia notched the highest scoring output of the first day of the season, with 23 points, coupled with 5 assists and 3 rebounds. Mark Belo, who was forced to exit the court after a bad fall late in the game, scored 20 points and 4 rebounds. Russel Escoto and Carl Cruz had 13 and 11 points respectively. Almond Vosotros led the scoring for La Salle with 18 points, while former Rookie of the Year and last year’s Finals MVP Jeron Teng had 14 points, while Jason Perkins notched the first double-double of the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

 

“I think nakita ko yung improvement niya(Mike Tolomia). Minsan, as a coach, di mo gusto yung tinira niya. Sometimes, you have to give him that. ‘Wag lang sobra.”

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