MANILA, Philippines — National University was first to dent Far Eastern University’s unblemished record on Wednesday, pulling off a 59-58 victory in the UAAP season 76 men’s basketball tournament.
The Bulldogs shackled the Tamaraws, after an 11-2 blast fueled by RR Garcia, in the last 3:38 of the game before Ray Parks canned two clutch freethrows to give them their final lead with 9.5 ticks left.
NU fell into a 52-58 hole after Garcia launched back-to-back treys in the fourth and a layup midway the quarter followed by an uncontested three by Mac Belo.
But after costly turnover by Terrence Romeo compounded by a foul by Garcia on Emmanuel Mbe, the Bulldogs found the opening to gain the win and closer to the Tamaraws in the standings.
“For us to beat FEU, we have to assert ourselves especially on defense. I like what happened in the end. We were down by four but the boys didn’t lose heart,” said head coach Eric Altamirano.
But despite knocking down the most important two points of the night, Parks struggled mightily from the field (2-of-11) for just seven points.
Guard Jelo Alolino led with 13 points, while Mbe and Glen Khobuntin each had 10.
While NU had a spring in its step, the Tamaraws, who finished the first round with a 7-0 card, came out sluggish after the two week break.
Usually a multipronged attack, only Garcia got into rhythm with 20 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals.
The league’s top MVP candidate Romeo, who averaged 20+ markers in the opening round, only had eight on 3-of-16 shooting.