The Lady Tamaraws are headed to the finals.
A lay-up basket by April Siat with less than ten seconds on the clock sent the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws to the finals of the UAAP women’s basketball tournament, overcoming defending champions and second-seeded De La Salle University Lady Archers, 81-80, Saturday afternoon at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Alyanna Ong would get the chance to steal back the win for the Lady Archers, but the hail mary jumper would fall short of hitting the net.
The first quarter would open on a very different from the first game, with both teams going all out on the offensive early in the quarter. After trading leads and baskets for ten minutes of basketball, the Lady Archers would manage to take the narrow 15-14 lead at the end of the first.
The Lady Archers would welcome the second quarter with sustained intensity on the offensive. Camille Claro and Trisha Piatos would explode in the first few minutes of the quarter, draining big buckets from beyond the arc to give La Salle the 25-18 edge with six and half left on the clock. Angel Arellado and Jacqueline Tanaman would manage to fire back to stay within striking distance for most of the remaining minutes of the quarter. An eight-point late quarter explosion from Cass Santos however would give the Lady Archers the 36-30 lead heading into halftime.
A triple from Piatos another basket from Alyanna Ong would put the Lady Archers up by double digits, 41-30 at the start of the third quarter. Though the lead would stay in double digits for the next few minutes, veteran Lady Tamaraw Jacqueline Tamanan would lead the charge once more, cutting the lead to 46-40 halfway through the quarter. With the Lady Archers showing signs of fatigue and the Lady Tams coming alive offensively, the La Salle lead would be cut to a manageable 50-44 at the end of the quarter.
The Lady Tams would continue to capitalize on the La Salle dry spell, and led by Tanaman, would manage to tie at 55-all near the halfway point. A lay-up by April Siat would put the Lady Tams up for the first time since the first quarter, 57-55, but Trisha Piatos would answer back with a triple on the other end to give back the lead to the Lady Archers. The two squads would continue trading baskets and leads well into the final two minutes, resulting to a 71-all deadlock. Miller Ong would get the chance to cop the win in the dying seconds of the quarter, but would miss on the drive to the basket, sending the game into overtime.
A triple from Alyanna Ong would give La Salle the lead to open the overtime period, but April Siat, still hot from her fourth quarter explosion, would remain unstoppable in the paint to hold the fort for the Lady Tamaraws. With 42.5 on the clock, the score would remain tied at 79-79.
A split free-throw opportunity from Trisha Piatos would give La Salle an 80-79 lead with 27 seconds left on the clock. Still unstoppable from paint, April Siat would manage to sink another lay-up with less than ten seconds in the clock.
Without any timeouts left, the Lady Archers would race down to the other end, but were unable to find the easy shot. The ball would eventually end up in the sweet-shooting Alyanna Ong’s hands, who manage to get the release with the clock just about to expire. The prayer however would fall short of going through the hoop. The FEU bench would spill into the court in celebration just as the final buzzer sounded.
Apri Siat led FEU with 24 points, 12 rebounds, and 2 steals, coming alive in the fourth quarter and overtime period to lead her team to victory. Jacqueline Tanaman and Claire Castro had 16 points apiece, while Ana Valenzona had 11. The backcourt duo of Trisha Piatos and Camille Claro had 18 points apiece to lead the Lady Archers.
The Lady Tamaraws finished the elimination round at 8-6, tied with the UST Growling Tigresses. The Tamaraws edged the Tigresses in the first game of the final four stepladder last week, and outlasted the twice-to-beat La Salle last Wednesday to force today’s knockout game. And now, the Tamaraws are headed to the finals to face off against the undefeated National U Bulldogs.
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