The Lady Tams do it again. After trailing for most of the first three quarters, the Far Eastern University Tamaraws would explode for a 19-5 run early the fourth quarter to upset the second-seeded De La Salle University Lady Archers, 61-56, forcing a knockout match on Saturday.
The Lady Tamaraws opened the first quarter with a 5-0 lead, but the Lady Archers would finally pull together to score seven straight points after baskets from Steph Vergara and Nicky Garcia to take the lead. Both teams would struggle offensively in the last three minutes. The only player to score in the final minutes was FEU’s April Siat, after splitting two free throws. At the end of the first quarter, La Salle would cling to the lead, 7-6.
The trigger-happy Lady Archers would finally find their touch in the second quarter, with Nicky Garcia and Cass Santos leading the charge. The Tamaraws meanwhile would continue to struggle offensively, unable to find the easy shot against La Salle. A three-pointer from Trisha Piatos in the dying seconds of the half would give La Salle the double-digit lead, 29-17.
Nicky Garcia would usher in the second half with another three-pointer to extend the lead to 32-17. A 9-3 run led by Jacqueline Tanaman however, would cut the lead to single digits once more, 35-30 with six minutes on the clock. With the Lady Tamaraws’ offense kicked to life, the two squads would trade baskets for the rest of the quarter. The lead however would stay with La Salle after three quarters, 45-37.
The fourth quarter however would open to a very different note. A three-pointer from Ana Valenzona and a lay-up from April Siat would cut the lead to three, 45-42, in the opening minute. Two more baskets from Siat would give FEU the lead, 46-45, with 6:45 on the clock. Trisha Piatos would fire back with a triple on the other end, but Siat would immediately put up her response to force a 48-48 deadlock.
With momentum still on their side, the Lady Tamaraws would manage to take a 56-50 approaching the final three minutes. A sudden La Salle rally led by Camille Claro would trim the lead to 56-54, with less than two minutes on the clock. Claro however would miss what could have been the game-tying shot, and a basket by Jacqueline Tanaman would put FEU up, 58-54. Camille Claro would manage to sink two free throws in the next play to stay close at 58-56 with 45.8 on the clock.
Cass Santos would manage to snatch the ball from FEU in the next play, but Alyanna Ong would go on to miss the three-pointer that would have stolen back the game. With 13.7 left on the clock, FEU would manage to win a crucial jumpball. Free-throw baskets from FEU would widen the gap in the dying seconds, and the Lady Tamaraws would walk away with the 61-56 victory.
April Siat led the Lady Tams with 21 points and 9 rebounds, while Jacqueline Tanaman had 16 points and 11 boards. Nicole Garcia led La Salle with 15 points and 5 rebounds.
“Inulit ko lang sa kanila, you have to play as the Lady Tamaraws. Hindi tayo gi-give up, lalaban tayo ng lalaban. After nun, nag-adjust na sila sa La Salle”, said FEU head coach Alan Albano.
The knockout match-up between the Lady Tamaraws and the Lady Archers will be held on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena, on the same day the men’s teams from FEU and La Salle kick off their own final four showdown.
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