A fitting nickname if there ever was one. Angel “Precious” Arellado nailed a late three to lift the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws over a misfiring De La Salle University Lady Archers, 48-43. Arellado top-scored for the upset-minded Lady Tams, firing in 19 points buttressed by 3 long-range daggers, 2 in the tightly-contested fourth period. Archers’ marksman Trisha Piatos led her team with 17 points, albeit on 18 shots. Despite the loss, the Lady Archers maintain their grip on 2nd place with a 10-3 record, and look ahead to their pivotal matchup against undefeated NU. A win against the Lady Bulldogs will not allow La Salle to leapfrog them in the standings, but will prevent the Bulldogs from proceeding automatically to the Finals, with a thrice-to-beat advantage to boot. The 7-5 Lady Tams consolidate their 3rd seed with the victory, giving them crucial breathing space over ADMU and ADU, who are locked in a dogfight for the last remaining playoff spot at 6-6.
DLSU and FEU engaged in a defensively oriented battle, with each team committed to eliminating open looks at the basket. Still, La Salle’s ball movement generated plenty of opportunities in the first half, but a parade of sorry misses at the rim prevented them from pulling away. As such, FEU was able to grind out a 4-point advantage, 18-14, at the half. The offense turned up a little as the long distance tries for both squads started pouring in in the third. Piatos and Arellado turned up the heat in the third stanza, trading shots for the Lady Archers and Lady Tamaraws, respectively, en route to a dead-even 14-14 period. The result was a tantalizingly close fourth quarter, as La Salle pressed relentlessly in search of the lead. Arellano and Tahanan, meanwhile, steadied the ship for FEU, and just barely kept the surging Lady Archers at bay. With DLSU down a solitary point, 38-37, with 3:20 left in the decisive quarter, Claire Ong had a chance at the charity stripe to snatch the lead for her Taft-based team. Unfortunately for the La Salle fans in attendance, she missed both of her freebies, deflating the DLSU comeback, and handing momentum and confidence to the girls in yellow. With 35 seconds to go, Arellano fired in the last of her threes to give FEU a huge 6-point cushion, sparking raucous celebrations on the FEU bench. Piatos would not go down without a fight though, as La Salle’s fiery point guard immediately responded with a dagger of her own, forcing a tautly poised endgame. After a DLSU defensive stop, Piatos raced downcourt in hopes of earning a quick 2 points, but active hands from the Tams backcourt caused her to spill the ball. The ball did appear to hit a FEU player during the scramble, but a video review upheld possession for the relieved Tamaraws. Everything continued to come up aces for FEU in their final stab at the goal, as they rebounded their own miss, and pounced on a defensive miscue. The towering Claire Castro found herself open under the hoop, and laid in the ensuing undefended shot to earn FEU a critical 48-43 victory.