Down by as much as 20 points in the opening frame, the Far Eastern University Tamaraws methodically dismantled the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons’ lead to eventually take a 63-60 win, handing UP another heartbreak in the process, Saturday afternoon at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
The win is FEU’s seventh straight win while sending UP to a two-game skid. Moreover, UP is now at the brink of elimination.
“We knew from the start that it will be really hard to play against UP. They are playing re-energized basketball in the second round,” FEU head coach Nash Racela said.
Raymar Jose led the Tamaraws’ comeback win with 20 points and 12 rebounds. He was 9-of-22 from the field.
Down 28-8 at the end of the first quarter, the defending champions slowly chipped in to the lead eventually getting its first taste of the lead 55 seconds in the final frame after a Kenneth Tuffin triple, 49-46.
Prior to that sequence, UP’s hot-shooting slowly faded as the seconds went by, eventually going on a screeching halt in the all-important final frame. The Tamaraws, on the other end, went on a 13-4 rally capped by a basket by Monbert Arong to give FEU a 59-50 lead with 4:56 left.
“I think during the half, sabi ko, ‘if you want to do it the hard way, let’s do it the hard way.’ We put ourselves in a hard position after the first quarter,” Racela added.
King Maroon Jett Manuel gave UP the second win it needed as he and Paul Desiderio knocked down three triples to answer FEU’s baskets to cut the lead to just three, 60-63 with exactly a minute left in the game.
“We were really passive especially in the defensive end. Our players responded to us after the first quarter,” Racela furthered. “We need to play really good basketball to have a shot.”
A missed three by Desiderio that would have tied the game with 24 seconds left in the game fortunately landed on an FEU player before going out of bounds gave UP another possession. However, graduating senior Dave Moralde succumbed to the pressure from both the crowd and the defense, turned the ball over on the inbound.
On the other end, floor general Jojo Trinidad slipped leading to a steal by rookie Javi Gomez de Liano. With the game on the line, he handed the ball over to Manuel who heaved a triple over two defenders. Unfortunately for UP, the shot went stray with four seconds left. Missed free throws by Jose on the end was rebounded by the King Tamaraw himself to seal the win.
“Yung bad start namin, masyado kaming passive. Kaya nag-trabaho kami at sumunod sa sistema ni coach,” Jose said.
FEU out-rebounded UP 53 to 39 that led to a 19 to 9 second chance points advantage for the Tamaraws. Moreover, it negated the three-point advantage of the Fighting Maroons.
Manuel led UP with 16 points and eight rebounds. Desiderio added 13 points.
The FEU Tamaraws (8-2) will take on the UE Red Warriors (2-8) in their next assignment on Saturday, October 29. On the other hand, the UP Fighting Maroons (3-8) look to bounce back, taking on the NU Bulldogs (4-6) next on Wendesday, October 26.
FEU (63) – Jose 20, Trinidad 9, Arong 8, Inigo 7, Orizu 6, Ebona 5, Tuffin 4, Comboy 2, Holmqvist 2, Escoto 0, Dennison 0, Denila 0, Bayquin 0.
UP (60) – Manuel 16, Desiderio 13, Prado 10, Lim 5, Harris 4, Gomez de Liano 3, Dario 3, Moralde 2, Webb 2, Vito 2, Asilum 0, Jaboneta 0, Romero 0.
Quarterscores: 8-28, 27-36, 46-46, 63-60