Far Eastern University shrugged off its slow start with a huge second half to beat University of the East, 75-68, in the UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball tournament at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, Sunday afternoon.
The Red Warriors raced to a 12-0 start and led by as much as 15 in the first half but the Tamaraws uncorked a 21-9 third frame to enter the fourth ahead, 55-51.
Then L-jay Gonzales, Bryan Sajonia, and Patrick Sleat opened the payoff period with 10 straight points. That gave FEU a commanding 65-51 lead with 6:58 to go.
But UE came back through the efforts of Gani Stevens and Nikko Paranada for a 12-2 blast to pull them within four, 63-67, with 2:18 left.
Patrick Tchuente answered for the Tamaraws though with back-to-back baskets. He punctuated the mini-run with a jam at the 1:27 mark to fend off the Red Warriors.
“My players stuck to the game plan. Nagkaproblema lang in the start but our zone helped us but it was our team defense that really gave us that win,” said FEU coach Olsen Racela.
Xyrus Torres waxed hot from deep with six conversions to lead the Tamaraws with 22 points to go with five steals. Meanwhile, Gonzales had 14 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds.
Tchuente registered his finest game with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
The Tamaraws collected their third straight win after a horrendous 0-5 start to improve to 3-5. They are level with the skidding Red Warriors, who absorbed their third straight loss, in sixth.
“Of course, we’re trying to ride in that momentum that we had in the first round,” added Racela.
On the other hand, Paranada tallied 21 points, six rebounds, and six assists. Stevens added 13 points on a perfect 6-of-6 clip from the field with nine rebounds.
UE will face the struggling University of Santo Tomas on Wednesday, 11:00 AM, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena. Meanwhile, FEU will battle De La Salle University at 4:30 PM.
FEU 75 — Torres 22, Gonzales 14, Tchuente 13, Sajonia 6, Anonuevo 5, Sleat 4, Bautista 4, Bagunu 3, Tempra 2, Celzo 2, Alforque 0, Sandagon 0.
UE 68 — N. Paranada 21, Stevens 13, Villegas 13, Payawal 9, K. Paranada 6, Sawat 4, Pagsanjan 2, Remogat 0, Alcantara 0, Guevarra 0, Antiporda 0, Beltran 0.
Quarterscores: 8-23, 34-42, 55-51, 75-68.