The Far Eastern University survived four gruelling quarters of basketball and a heated overtime period, taking advantage of a visibly worn out National University Bulldogs to open the second round of their UAAP Season 77 campaign, 74-70, Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Carl Cruz came up big in the fourth quarter overtime period, shaking off shooting woes in regulation to score five of his nine points and give FEU a much needed boost to take a 70-68 lead in the final thirteen seconds.
The game opened to a tight, back-and-forth affair between the two squads, with Nico Javelona hitting six points to lead the NU assault. However, FEU’s Mike Tolomia would himself shine in the quarter, scoring six points of his own.
The 16-16 deadlock at the start of the second quarter was quickly shattered, as FEU’s Mark Belo came out with guns blazing, sinking seven points. While Javelona losing steam and Troy Rosario unable to pull together, the Tamaraws would score sixteen more points and hold NU to 11 to take the lead, 32-27, heading into halftime.
NU would however enter the court looking to fire back. Alfred Aroga would lead an NU run, sinking 12 of his 17 points in the quarter, and giving NU their first taste of the lead by the seventh minute of the quarter. FEU would take advantage of a worn-out Aroga who needed to sub out. Roger Pogoy and Mark Belo would lead a 15-4 FEU rally to erase the NU lead and head into the fourth quarter with a 53-50 lead.
The back-and-forth affair would resume in the fourth quarter, with Gelo Alolino coming alive to take charge of NU and the duo of Mark Belo and Mike Tolomia continuing to rake in points for NU. The Bulldogs would have the lead by the start of the final two minutes, but Carl Cruz would sink a basket in the final minute to force a 65-65 deadlock. Neither team would be able to break the deadlock in the final minutes, and an FEU miss in the dying seconds would signal overtime.
FEU would take the lead at the start of the overtime. Carl Cruz, who scored seven of FEU’s last nine points, would take the reins for FEU and lead the Tamaraws to the lead in the final minutes of the period.
FEU’s Mark Belo, who led all scorers with 23 points along wuth 10 rebounds,3 assists, and a block, was pleased with the team’s performance. In the post-game conference, Belo would cite the team developing a sense of trust that in came in handily in the ballgame.
Mike Tolomia added 18 points, seven rebounds, and 5 assists to the FEU cause. Alfred Arroga led the NU Bulldogs in scoring with 17 points. Rosario and Alolino had 14 each.
The Tamaraws climb to 6-2, while the Bulldogs sink to 6-3 entering the second round of the men’s basketball tournament.