Garcia, Romeo team up to lift FEU past UST on UAAP 75 opening dayBy Celest R. Flores
MANILA, Philippines – RR Garcia finished what Terrence Romeo started.
FEU’s fearless backcourt combination took turns in carrying the Tamaraws to a 73-72 come-from-behind victory over University of Santo Tomas Saturday in the opening game of the 75th UAAP men’s basketball tournament at the MOA Arena.
Garcia unleashed back to back treys before sealing the victory with a bucket off the fast break with 7.9 seconds left, completing a turnaround from 13 points down.
Romeo, meanwhile, ignited the comeback with a 7-0 roll to start the fourth quarter, which breathe life into the Tamaraws who struggled to contain UST for most of the game.
“We really struggled to contest their outside shooting,” said head coach Bert Flores. “It was fortunate in the last two minutes, our defense clicked.”
Garcia underscored FEU’s opening game victory with 21 points and seven assists while Romeo, despite missing all his attempts from the beyond-the-arc, finished with 13 points.
FRU, who only got a taste of the lead again midway the fourth quarter, pounced on a costly error by UST’s Jeric Fortuna, who milked the clock only to lose the ball on the drive.
The Growling Tigers, hoping to have a win to show for their pre-season rep of being a team to beat, had a chance to snatch the game from the jaws of defeat but returning Aljon Mariano missed the floater as the time expired.
UST seemed poised to grab the victory when its outside shooting clicked, courtesy of Jeric Teng, in the third quarter and led 70-60, but was unable to adjust the defense in the face of FEU’s raging guards in the final period.
Teng, who gave his squad a 59-46 edge, once again, weaved his magic and knocked down his fourth triple with a minute to go and gave UST a 72-69 lead but his squad failed to capitalize in the ensuing possession.
Karim Abdul threw his weight around the paint with 24 points and 16 rebounds, but only contributed three points in the payoff period.
Teng chipped in 18 points while Mariano added 10 markers and six rebounds.