After trailing for most of the game, the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws find themselves in the second round of the Final Four stepladder, snatching the game in the fourth quarter from the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigresses, 62-61, Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Tigresses dominated most of the first quarter, holding a clumsy FEU squad to only six points in the first seven minutes to take a 12-6 lead. A 5-0 run by the Lady Tams in the final minute however would close the gap for the women of Morayta, 12-11 at the end of the first.
FEU would manage to get a taste of the lead, 14-12 at the start of the quarter. but Lore Rivera and Maica Cortes would fire back for the Tigresses and wrestle back the lead, 17-16, in the first three minutes of the second quarter. With the rest of their team struggling to find the easy basket, Lore Rivera and Maica Cortes would lead the charge for Espana, combining for 26 of their 31 first half points; with 15 and 10 markers respectively. FEU meanwhile would rely on Claire Castro’s 8 points and Angel Arellado and Jacqueline Tanaman’s 7, making up for 22 of FEU’s 24. The Tigresses would also manage to bring down a whopping twenty-two offensive boards, care of Cortes, who brought down 17 rebounds in 18 minutes of play. The Tigresses would close the quarter with the lead, 31-24, after veering away from their usual fiery, run-and-gun play.
Back-to-back three pointers from Angel Arellado and Lorraine Ventura would trim the gap to one point, 31-30, in the first minute of the second half. Lore Rivera however would fire back for UST, scoring five straight points off a trifecta and breakaway jumper to extend the lead to 36-30 within the minute. A floater from Kim Reyes would extend the lead, 38-30. With the Tigresses controlling the boards and the duo of Rivera and Cortes still unstoppable, UST would retain the lead, 48-41, entering the final period of the ballgame.
With Rivera and Cortes getting some much needed rest, Sofie Felisarta and Clarice Magdaluyo would pick up the offensive for the Tigresses to open the fourth quarter to extend the lead to as much as nine points, 54-45. UST would continue to enjoy the lead for the next few minutes, but halfway through the fourth, Angel Arellado and Claire Castro would rise to the occasion and take advantage of the worn-out Tigresses. With Rivera and Cortes beginning to show signs of fatigue, the Lady Tams would finally come within striking distance, 59-60, approaching the final three minutes.
After a series of turnovers, the Tigresses would remain unable to take back the lead heading into the final two minutes. A lay-up by Claire Castro from a pass from Lorraine Ventura would give FEU the lead, 61-60, with 54.9 left on the clock. After another series of missed baskets, a split free-throw opportunity from Lore Rivera would force the deadlock, 61-all with twenty seconds left on the clock.
With clock about to expire, Ventura would be fouled on a lay-up attempt. She would manage to hit one of two to give FEU the narrow lead, 62-61 with around three seconds left on the clock.
UST’s leading scorer Lore Rivera would manage to find the ball in their next possession, but was fouled before she could get into position for the shot attempt. As FEU still had fouls to give, the foul would only serve to trouble UST further. With 1.2 seconds left, UST would have one more chance at snatching back the win, but the inbound pass would result in the ball ending up in the hands of FEU’s April Siat just as the final buzzer sounded. After four quarters, the Lady Tams would be the ones celebrating on the floor.
Angel Arellado led FEU with 18 points. Claire Castro meanwhile had 15 points and 8 rebounds while Jacqueline Tanaman had 12. UST’s Lore Rivera finished with a game-high 23 points, along with 14 rebounds. Maica Cortes added 16 points and 23 rebounds. Both Rivera and Cortes put up stellar performances in the first half, but struggled in the final period.
With the win, FEU move up the step-ladder to face last year’s champions, the De La Salle University Lady Archers, this coming Thursday, 11 am at the San Juan Arena