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Tams overcome slow start to top Letran

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The Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws pulled through late in the second half and edged Colegio de San Juan de Letran, 80-75, to post their first victory in the 2015 FilOil-Flying V Hanes Premier Cup this afternoon at the FilOil-Flying V Arena in San Juan.

CSJL had the upper hand in the opening frame, heading quickly to a 9-2 advantage with less than six minutes to go. The Tamaraws, however, overcame the deficit and closed within three, 11-8, after a Prince Orizu layup with 3:14 on the clock. FEU tried to trim down Letran’s lead further, but their misfiring shots and miscues in ball movement prompted Letran to take advantage and post a 17-8 lead with 1:35 left. Another triple from CSJL left FEU trailing, 20-10, with twenty ticks left, but FEU guard, Mike Tolomia, closed out the frame with a three-pointer just before the buzzer sounded.

The Tamaraws were slowly picking up their rhythm come the second canto, as they were finally converting their shots from inside to the perimeter. Down 24-18 with 4:16 on the clock, FEU began plowing through to close the gap. Backed by Jose’s putback layups and one-handers, FEU inched within three, 28-25, approaching the two-minute mark. Letran, on the other hand, prevented the green and gold squad in building up a run, eventually outscoring them, 6-2, to end the first half in their favor, 34-27.

The Intramuros-based Knights opened up the second half with five straight points behind Mark Cruz and Nambatac, widening the gap to twelve, 39-27. However, the Tamaraws, behind the spark provided by Jose and Mark Belo, cut Letran’s lead to just two, 39-37, with 5:43 left. CSJL took their offense inside the paint and stretched their lead to seven, 49-42, with 1:23 remaining. FEU bravely answered Letran, and ended the quarter with a 7-0 run to send the game into a 49-all knot coming into the fourth and final frame.

Both teams exchanged series of baskets in the fourth quarter. After exchanges of leads from the start to midway, Letran saw themselves up, 63-61, with less than five minutes on the clock. That, unfortunately, proved to be their last taste of the lead, for the Morayta-based cagers: Belo, Jose, and rookies Jojo Trinidad and Monbert Arong joined forces on the offensive end, to grab the lead, 76-71, with 22.4 seconds ticking. CSJL fought back as they closed within one, 76-75, after a four-point play by Cruz, with less than twenty seconds left. Although Letran could not sustain momentum from that basket, as FEU scored five more off a pair of free throws by Belo and a layup by Arong, ending the game 80-75 and earning their first W of the tourney.

Despite the victory, FEU Head Coach Nash Racela was not satisfied with the way the Tamaraws played. “We were not satisfied with the way we played. Ang daming lapses in the defensive end,” said Racela, who just came from a successful stint with the Gilas-Pilipinas Cadet squad in the SEABA tournament that took home the gold medal. “Marami pang dapat trabahuhin,” he furthered.

Belo led the Tamaraws with 21 points and 7 rebounds. Jose had 18, while Russel Escoto added 12. Arong chipped in 11 markers off the bench. CSJL, meanwhile, were led by Cruz and Nambatac with 25 and 23, respectively.

The University of San Jose-Recoletos Jaguars will be FEU’s next assignment this Saturday, May 9, at 1:30 PM. Letran, meanwhile, will face Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals next Wednesday, May 13, also at 1:30 PM.

The scores:

FEU 80 – Belo 21, Jose 18, Escoto 12, Arong 11, Trinidad 5, Tolomia 4, Orizu 4, Tamsi 3, Bienes 2.

CSJL 75 – Cruz 25, Nambatac 23, Sollano 16, Quinto 6, Calvo 4, Dela Pena 1.

TEAM1ST2ND3RD4TH
FEU (A, 1-1)13274980
CSJL (A, 1-2)20344975
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Oftentimes on the sidelines. Forever a student of the game. Morayta-bred.

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