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Tamaraws survive feisty Falcons to sit atop standings



The Far Eastern University Tamaraws dodged a bullet.

With the cellar-dealing Adamson Squad playing good basketball to finally barge into the win column, the FEU Tamaraws crushed their hopes by pulling off a 64-60 thriller to cap off the UAAP weekend on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Joseph Nalos and Prince Orizu scored the game’s first baskets but both teams took a while before getting their groove offensively in the slow-paced opening period. The two squads piled up blanks from the perimeter as no team dictated momentum due to poor shooting from the field. Adamson started without big man Papi Sarr but despite the entry of the center, the Falcons were down by two points after a period with Achi Inigo and Mac Belo combining for the last seven points for FEU.

For a brief moment, Adamson snatched the lead in the first minutes of the second quarter but RR Pogoy ignited the Tamaraws rally to make distance in favour of FEU. The Tamaraws built a 12-4 spurt in the middle of the canto in the still slow-scoring second with the help of good ball movement in their sets. The Tamaraws also built their largest lead of the first half at 27-16 just before Adamson answered with four quick points to end it capped by a tip in by JD Tungcab.

FEU maintained a good hold for their lead but Adamson started to threaten the Tamaraws and avoid getting manhandled. Hustle provided by the Falcons gave them the momentum in the third period as Joseph Nalos and Papi Sarr anchored the offense. By the 4:30 mark of the quarter, Nalos sealed a serious game-tying run by the Falcons as the Tamaraws looked rattled on their offensive end.

Suddenly, the match was played on a back-and-forth affair with Adamson answering to hold on with their mini lead. In the fourth period, Sarr was a force in denying the attempts of FEU underneath but his squad had a tough time to extend their lead to at least two-possessions. Still down, the Tamaraws located their veterans as Belo, Tolomia and Escoto anchored the offense and defense to make stops while a jumper by Russell Escoto gave FEU the lead back.

A crucial spin move that led to a layup by Nalos helped AdU snatch the lead back but a good timeout play led to Mike Tolomia wide open for a wing triple that gave FEU the lead for good with less than a minute to play. Nalos had another chance at the rim but failed to convert then added a crucial turnover late while Pogoy and Belo iced the game with free throws.

“Inconsistent pa rin but at least we only had 15 turnovers,” FEU coach Nash Racela opened his post-game conference. “Going into this week we knew we have a tough three games. Every single game that we played this week was really hard.”

Racela though did not say that fatigue was the case for the close games they have been in. “There was an intention on our part to manage the minutes of our players,” he said. “Especially si Mike. He has been playing hurt since the La Salle game. That’s why he is only playing limited minutes.”

The FEU mentor though was amazed at the stellar play of Pape Sarr, who notched a 20-20. “Impressive. When we played them during the Filoil tournament, he had 28 points on us. Matigas talaga ulo namin as coaches to not focus on him,” he quipped.

It was another balanced scoring outing for the Tamaraws with Russel Escoto leading the way with 11 points. Both Tolomia and Smart Elite ambassador Mac Belo had 10 markers each with the latter adding 10 boards.

As stated earlier, Pape Sarr grabbed a huge double-double with 26 points and 22 boards in 33 minutes of action. He was 7/17 from the field and was 12/16 from the foul stripe. Smart Elite ambassador Dawn Ochea is still on a bad run in scoring just 2 points on 1/7 shooting.

Both team’s shot poorly with the victors having a 33% shooting clip while the opposition shot 26%.

FEU (5-1) are now the league leaders in the standings as they will round up their first round of elimination against UST on October 7 while Adamson is still winless in six games and looks to finally win this season against UP, on October 4.

The Scores:
FEU (64) – Escoto Ru. 11, Tolomia 10, Belo 10, Pogoy 9, Inigo 8, Jose 5, Arong 4, Tamsi 3, Orizu 2, Escoto Ri. 2, Dennison 0, Ebona 0, Holmqvist K. 0, Holmqvist S. 0, Trinidad 0.
AdU (60) – Sarr 26, Nalos 9, Tungcab 7, Escalambre 6, Ng 2, Ochea 2, Garcia 2, Bernardo 2, Margallo 2, Polican 2, Camacho 0, Villanueva 0.
Quarterscores: 13-11, 27-20, 48-45, 64-60.

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