A career-high 26-point performance from Bong Galanza would come in handy for hosts University of the East Red Warriors, who stay in contention for a spot in the final four after trouncing rivals Far Eastern University Tamaraws, 94-71, Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Tamaraws ushered in the first quarter with a strong showing, with R.R Pogoy and Anthony Hargrove rising to give FEU the early lead. A 7-0 run by the Warriors led by Bong Galanza would bring UE to a 19-13 lead. The Warriors would get another push after star guard Roi Sumang was subbed in late in the quarter, returning to the court for the first time in two weeks having sat out last week’s victory over NU as punishment for missing practice.Though Sumang would miss his only attempt in the quarter, his presence was enough to motivate UE to close out the quarter with a 21-17 lead. Sumang eventually would go on to score all of his nine points in the second half.
An 8-0 run helmed by Achie Inigo and Mike Tolomia early in the second quarter would help the Tams close the gap to a single point, 25-26, but the run was immediately culled by a Dan Alberto teardrop. Galanza and Alberto would hold the fort for the Warriors for the remainder of the quarter. By the end of the first half, the Warriors would retain the lead, 44-37, while holding the Tamaraws to only two perimeter points and forcing them to 13 turnovers.
Back-to-back baskets from Charles Mammie would put the Warriors up by double digits, 48-37 in the opening minute of the third quarter. FEU’s Mark Belo however would once again rise up, leading a 7-0 rally that cut the lead to 48-44. The neighboring schools would continue to trade baskets for the rest of the quarter, with Mike Tolomia, Carl Cruz, and Achie Inigo leading the charge for the Tamaraws and Charles Mammie and Dan Alberto taking up the scoring reins for the resting Galanza. UE would hold on to the lead, 64-61, at the end of the quarter.
A Carl Cruz three-pointer would push the Tams to the deadlock, 64-all as soon as the fourth quarter opened. However, a basket from Galanza and five consecutive points from a returning Roi Sumang would suddenly put the Warriors back up in double digits, 76-65, in the next two minutes. The Warriors would then go on to dominate the Tamaraws in the next three minutes, completing a 14-0 run that would put the hosts up by 83-65 halfway through the quarter. Unable to stop the scorching hot shooting from Galanza and Charles Mammie’s domination in the paint, the Tamaraws could only watch as the Warriors started piling on the lead. With the Warriors still up 90-65 entering the final two minutes, FEU coach Nash Racela, who had just returned from Spain as part of the Gilas Pilipinas coaching staff, would raise the white flag by sending in the FEU second stringers.
Galanza had four assists and three steals to go with his career high 26 points. Charles Mammie added 18 points and 7 rebounds, while Dan Alberto had 10 points. Mark Belo led the scoring for FEU with 16 points along with 8 rebounds, while Achie Inigo chipped in 10. Mike Tolomia was held to nine points. The Red Warriors’ last victory over FEU was on September 24, 2009, 78-72.
“It’s been a while since we last met FEU. Naghahabol pa rin kami. We have to be control our destiny. We have to be ready for La Salle,” said UE coach Derrick Pumaren at the post-game conference.
UE bigman Charles Mammie meanwhile is confident about their coming game against defending champions La Salle. “We’re coming for them. We aren’t scared of them. I’m not scared of them.”
UE needs to win their remaining games in order to qualify for a final four slot, while hoping NU, who are one game ahead of them, lose in their remaining assignments.
FEU and Ateneo are currently now tied at 10-3 for first, and the victor of their game next week will come out of the eliminations round as the first overall seed, while the loser will drop to third. If the defending champions La Salle are victorious against UE in their matchup on Wednesday, the defending champions will be awarded at least a twice-to-beat incentive. Should UE win both of their remaining games once and NU win at least one more, the two will have a play-off for the fourth seed.