No Arvin Tolentino, no problem for FEU
Facing the team who had eliminated them in the last two conferences, the Far Eastern University Tamaraws remained poised, storming back against the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles to take a shocking 63-60 victory, Wednesday evening at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
The Tamaraws end the first round with a 5-2 slate. Though sporting an identical record, the Blue Eagles drop to third due to FEU’s win over them. And after beating the top two teams in the league, second-year Tamaraws head coach Olsen Racela was in awe with the performance his team.
“Well, ako hindi ko rin alam paano namin ginawa yun. If you noticed, kami yung pinaka-grabe yung schedule. Meron pa kaming laro sa Linggo. We played five games in two weeks. Sunday, Wednesday, Sunday, Wednesday, Sunday. To add to that, back-to-back yung Adamson and Ateneo,” reflected Racela.
“And we played without our top scorer. Hindi ko alam paano namin ginawa yun,” he added, as Arvin Tolentino was suspended for the game after being slapped with a disqualifying foul last Sunday.
But the Tamaraws had to dig deep as they figured in a slow start, falling behind early, 18-3, and facing a 22-32 deficit entering the second frame.
“We had a bad start. Against Ateneo hindi puwede yun kaya hindi namin alam kung paano namin nagawa yun,” the PBA legend shared.
Jasper Parker provided the spark the Tamaraws needed, scoring seven points. Seeing their senior’s fire, the rest followed suit, as FEU went on a 17-4 spurt capped by an Axel Iñigo triple with 1:29 left in the third canto to give the Tamaraws their first taste of the lead. FEU would then continue their surge in the final frame, leading by as much as eight points.
Parker finished with nine points, while Iñigo had nine as well.
Already without Matt Nieto, who injured his finger in the second quarter, the Blue Eagles lost Thirdy Ravena as well after being called for his fifth foul with 3:04 left.
But that did not stop Ateneo from fighting until the very end. Mike Nieto and Angelo Kouame connived, cutting the lead down to just three with 22 seconds left. After getting a crucial stop, Adrian Wong was forced to a tough three-pointer that badly missed as time expired.
Hubert Cani had 12 points, six assists, and five rebounds against his former team. Brandrey Bienes also filled the spot left by Tolentino finely, finishing with eight points.
After shooting just 37 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes of the game, the Tamaraws shot at a blistering 51 percent in the second half.
Angelo Kouame paced Ateneo with 16 points, 12 rebounds, and four blocks.
Both teams will open their second round campaign on Sunday, October 14. FEU will take on the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers, at 2:00pm, while Ateneo face the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons later on at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
FEU 63 – Cani 12, Parker 9, Inigo 9, Comboy 8, Orizu 8, Bienes 8, Stockton 5, Escoto 4, Ebona 0, Tuffin 0, Gonzales 0, Bayquin 0
ADMU 60 – Kouame 16, Verano 8, Ravena 8, Nieto Mi 8, Asistio 6, Mamuyac 6, Mendoza 4, Go 2, Wong 2, Tio 0, Navarro 0, Belangel 0, Nieto Ma 0, Black 0
Quarterscores: 11-19, 22-32, 39-39, 63-60
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