Garcia hits layin with .1 ticks left to give FEU crucial win over NUBy Celest R. Flores
MANILA, Philippines — RR Garcia did everything in the final minute — including hitting the game-winner — to deliver the victory 77-75 to Far Eastern University over National University Sunday in the 75th UAAP men’s basketball at Mall of Asia Arena.
Garcia set up Terrence Romeo for a go-ahead a triple with 53 seconds left then hit the layin with barely a tenth of a second left in the clock which buried the Bulldogs and gave the Tamaraws an 8-3 card.
The victory puts FEU at a tie with UST at second place and in a prime position to get the twice-to-beat edge, while pushing NU down to solo fifth with 6-5.
The former MVP, who only had 10 markers, lost the ball as he drove to the hoop after an isolation on top as the clock winded down, but FEU recovered the possesion after Bobby Ray Parks Jr. also lost the leather.
Roger Pogoy secured the ball then threw an overhead pass to a streaking Garcia, who then rushed to make the final shot — which needed to be reviewed couple of times before it was ruled counted.
“Coach gave the the confidence and though the last shot should be mine because Parks was guarding Romeo, who’s way taller,” said the Zamboanga-city native in Filipino.
Garcia, who earlier spun, drew defenders then kicked out to a wide-open Romeo for a pivotal trey, didn’t do well offensively but still notched nine assists.
FEU was holding on to the lead at halftime, but was outscored by NU 16-29 in the third quarter that saw its lead become a seven-point deficit.
But the wiry Russel Escoto took the initiative and posted his career high 18 points, knocking down big baskets in the payoff period including a triple before Romeo knocked down his.
Parks, who knocked down two freethrows, missed a chance to give the Bulldogs a crucial victory especially with teams so close to each other in the race for the final four despite scoring 26 points.
NU zoomed to the seven-point towards the end of the third quarter through the efforts of Jelo Alolino, but was quickly erased by FEU.
Alolino also posted a career-best 18 points for NU, which still has to battle Ateneo, La Salle and UP in its remaining games.