Tams grab solo lead, clip Eagles

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TERRENCE Romeo of FEU tries to shake off Ateneo’s Nico Elorde (right) and Gideon Babilonia. AUGUST DELA CRUZ

Far Eastern University outlasted an Ateneo squad that came out with more fight in them.

Terrence Romeo starred in the clutch as the Far Eastern U Tamaraws slipped past the Ateneo Blue Eagles in overtime, 79-75, to grab the solo 2-0 lead in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament yesterday at Mall of Asia Arena.

Romeo finished  with 21 points, including six of the Tamaraws’ 13 points in the extra period, as FEU dumped Ateneo, which is seeking a sixth straight championship, into a 0-2 hole for the first time in a decade.

“Ateneo is a very dangerous team, we were just fortunate,” said FEU coach Nash Racela after his Tamaraws survived an Ateneo side that pushed them to their limits even minus injured star Kiefer Ravena.

Earlier, rookie Jason Perkins and Jeron Teng pumped in 20 points each as La Salle repulsed University of the Philippines, 96-84, for its first victory in two games.

Perkins, who also combined for 30 rebounds with big man Norbert Torres, buried the Archers’ last eight points to help them pull away from the stubborn Maroons.

The Eagles, whose last 0-2 start came in 2003, have  never lost back-to-back games in their championship romp in the last five seasons.

Mike Tolomia added 16 points and RR Garcia shot 13 for the Tamaraws, who blew an 11-point advantage, 44-55, in the last nine minutes of regulation. But the Tamaraws had the game in control by the extra period with a 7-1 start for a 73-67 advantage. Romeo also nailed four cushion free throws in the last 18.9 seconds.

“They learned how to play without Kiefer and that’s hard,” said Racela.

Unlike in their 64-54 shock loss to National University, the Eagles found a go-to guy in Ryan Buenafe, who exploded for a career-high 29 points.

Chris Newsome’s two free throws with 10.7 seconds left in the fourth period pushed the game into overtime, 66-66.

Ravena, who played for only eight minutes last Sunday, had declared that he’s ready to play versus the Tamaraws. But Ateneo’s top gunner came wearing a medical boot on his right leg and sat out the entire game.

The last time the Eagles dropped two straight games was in September 2007 when they lost to NU (96-88, OT) and La Salle (70-69).

The scores:

First Game

LA SALLE 96—Teng 20, Perkins 20, Vosotros 15, N. Torres 14, T. Torres 14, Dela Paz 7, Van Opstal 6, Bolick 0.

UP 84—Marata 21, Lao 18, Asilum 12, Suare 9, Ball 8, Soyud 5, Pascual 3,Ligad 3, Gallarza 3, Desiderio 2, Wong 0, Amar 0.

Quarters: 24-19, 48-44, 75-67, 96-84

Second Game

FEU 79—Romeo 21, Tolomia 16, Garcia 13, Pogoy 8, Hargrove 8, Cruz 5, Mendoza 4, Jose 2, Belo 2, Sentcheu 0.

ATENEO 75—Buenafe 29, Newsome 17, Elorde 9, Tiongson 7, Pessumal 6, Erram 4, Capacio 3, Murphy 0, Golla 0, Babilonia 0, Asisitio 0.

Quarters: 14-18, 31-33, 53-44, 66-66 (reg.), 79-75 (OT)

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