Josee Kaputu made a stellar UAAP debut, leading the Far Eastern University to a wire-to-wire 75-68 victory over De La Salle University on Sunday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
Kaputu excelled in the paint, scoring 27 points, grabbing nine rebounds, and dishing out three assists.
The Congolese center sealed the victory with a crucial basket with over a minute remaining, extending the Lady Tamaraws’ lead to eight points as the Lady Archers attempted a comeback, led by Angel Villava-Cua and Tricia Mendoza.
This win was significant for the Lady Tamaraws, especially considering they defeated the finalists from Season 85, following a seventh-place finish last season with a 2-12 record.
Lady Tamaraws head coach Bert Flores expressed his satisfaction, saying, “This time siguro masarap dahil last year kasi ang kulang naming imports eh. Laging sasabihin na kulang ng [foreign student-athlete] talaga, ok local. At least yung import na nawala, yung isa, kasi bago to eh. Kahit papano lamang kami ng paligo ng kaunti kay Josee.”
The Lady Tamaraws started the game strongly with an 8-0 run, capped off by Jamerin Delos Santos’ three-pointer.
FEU then enjoyed its largest lead of the game at 40-25, courtesy of back-to-back shots from Kaputu with two minutes and thirty seconds left in the second quarter.
Flores added, “Masaya sa ngayon dahil nga napasok ko yung sistema at nagawa naman. Si Cholo (Villanueva) kasi parang Pumaren na din yan eh. Kung mag prepare ka, puro more on trap. La Salle kaagad kalaban, puro press break, press break.”
Queenie Aquino contributed 13 points for the Lady Tamaraws with an impressive 50 percent shooting from the three-point line. Jamerin Delos Santos added 10 points, seven assists, and five rebounds.
Rea Ong also made her presence felt with 12 rebounds for FEU.
FEU will look to build on this victory when they face defending champions National University at 3 p.m. on Wednesday at the Adamson Gym.
On the other hand, Mendoza led the Lady Archers with 23 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks, and two steals, followed by Villava-Cua with 10 points.
Luisa Dela Paz contributed nine points, while Lee Sario scored seven points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
On the other hand, Betts Binaohan was limited to just seven points but managed to produce eight rebounds, seven assists, and five steals.
La Salle will attempt to bounce back on the same day when they face archrival Ateneo de Manila University at 11:00 AM.
FEU (75) — Kaputu 27, Aquino 13, Delos Santos 10, Manguiat 9, Nagma 5, Salvani 4, Caringal 3, Ong 2, Paras 2, Dela Torre 0, Lopez 0, Del Prado 0, Cabahug 0, Antonio 0.
DLSU (68) — Mendoza 23, Villava-cua 10, Dela Paz 9, Binaohan 7, Sario 7, Paraiso 6, San Juan 5, Bojang 1, Bacierto 0, Delos Reyes 0.
Quarterscores: 24-15, 42-33, 55-46, 75-68