The celebrations of the UP Fighting Maroons were short lived, as the Far Eastern University Tamaraws took matters into their own hands, grounding the Adamson University Soaring Falcons, 71-54, Saturday evening.
“Well, of course natutuwa kami. I have to hand it to the players, they never gave up, they never wavered sa kagustuhan nila mag-Final Four,” said first-year Tamaraws head coach Olsen Racela.
With the win, the Tamaraws clinched the final ticket into the post-season with a 7-7 record, a full game ahead of the Fighting Maroons. FEU will await the result of the Ateneo-La Salle showdown tomorrow. If the Blue Eagles win, the Tamaraws will face the Soaring Falcons in a knockout game. On the other hand, if the Green Archers take it, the Tamaraws will face the top-seeded Blue Eagles, with the latter holding a twice-to-beat edge.
“Kahit ano, dadaan pa rin kami sa butas ng karayom, it doesn’t matter, ang iniisip ko is more than ang kalaban namin is yung sarili namin,” added Racela when pressed about who is he looking forward to facing.
Arvin Tolentino paced FEU with a team-high 14 points. If Tolentino provided the finesse, Ricard Escoto and Prince Orizu provided the strength. The former finished with 11 points and eight rebounds, while the latter tallied 10 points on 3-for-4 shooting to go along with 12 rebounds and two blocks.
“To me, I just like to say this is one of the best games we had,” said Orizu, “We played like brothers. If we bring this more to the Final Four we’ll be better.”
The game had no actual bearing for the third-seeded Soaring Falcons, who saw their three-game winning streak snap. They finish the elimination round with a 9-5 slate.
Unfortunately for Adamson, two of their stalwarts fell to injury in the contest.
Sophomore guard Jerrick Ahanmisi was brought of the game with two minutes remaining in the first half after twisting his ankle. The same happened to transferee Jerie Pingoy with 5:22 left in the game. Both did not return to the game.
Ahanmisi played just six minutes in the contest, while Pingoy finished with just three points on 1-for-9 shooting.
With the two out, the Tamaraws picked the Soaring Falcons apart in the final frame. Orizu scored eight points in the quarter, while Ino Comboy put on the finishing touches to help FEU gain a game-high 17-point lead.
Robbie Manalang finished with 15 points for Adamson, while Papi Sarr added 10 points on a 33 percent clip to go along with seven rebounds.
FEU out-rebounded Adamson 48-38. Moreover, the Tamaraws shot a superior 43 percent from the field compared to just 33 percent for the Soaring Falcons, with Adamson knocking down just three triples for the entire game.
FEU 71 – Tolentino 14, Escoto 11, Orizu 10, Parker 9, Comboy 9, Inigo 7, Cani 5, Trinidad 2, Ebona 2, Bayquin 2, Dennison 0, Tuffin 0
ADU 54 – Manalang 15, Sarr 10, Camacho 7, Lojera 4, Ochea 4, Bernardo 4, Espeleta 3, Pingoy 3, Hill 2, Ahanmisi 2, Paranada 0, Manganti 0, Zaldivar 0
Quarterscores: 19-17, 35-32, 52-44, 71-54