Tams collar Bulldogs; Maroons end 2-year skid
CARL Bryan Cruz emerged as a surprise spark as Far Eastern University spoiled National University’s bid to grab the solo top spot with a 71-62 victory in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament yesterday at Mall of Asia Arena.
The Tamaraws’ rise, though, failed to match the aftershocks that followed University of the Philippines’ first win this season—and in 27 games spanning two years.
Mikee Reyes and JR Gallarza carried the past equally hapless Adamson, 77-64, in the earlier game, which generated greater public reaction especially over social media (See related story on Page A1).
Cruz unloaded 13 of his 16 points in the first half where the Tamaraws surprisingly erected a 20-point advantage, 42-22, before fending off the Bulldogs’ comeback attempt in the final quarter.
“It was the most crucial game for us because if we lost this game, we’ll be in the middle of the pack,” said FEU coach Nash Racela after the Tamaraws climbed to a share of third at 4-2.
“The players knew how important the game was. From the beginning, the focus was there and the effort was there.”
The Maroons pulled away early with Gallarza firing 18 of his 24 points in the first half, before Reyes took over to finish with a career-high 28 points and doom the Falcons to their sixth straight loss.
“We worked so hard this season, we just couldn’t get it going until today,” said Gallarza after the Maroons triumphed for the first time in two years despite the absence of head coach Rey Madrid.
Madrid missed the Maroons’ breakthrough win as he served the last of a two-game suspension for accusing the referees of match fixing.
“We really wanted this game,” said Reyes, who fueled a third-quarter outburst where the Maroons led by as many as 24 points, 60-36. “We felt that this is the game we can get a win.”
Achie Iñigo also delivered for the Tamaraws with 14 points, missing only once in five attempts, aside from dishing out three assists.
The Bulldogs, who held FEU stars Mac Belo and Mike Tolomia below their usual numbers, ended their first round with a 5-2 record to fall behind Ateneo, which has a 5-1 record.
“That has always been the emphasis—we should be unpredictable,” said Racela. “If they (opponents) focus on one or two players, other players should be able to step forward.”
Tolomia hit four crucial points in the endgame, before finishing with 10 on a poor 4-of-15 shooting clip. Belo had nine points, seven rebounds and a key block on Troy Rosario down the stretch.
UP 77—Reyes 28, Gallarza 24, Lao 10, Asilum 4, Juruena 4, Lim 2, Moralde 2, Gingerich 2, Amar 1, Vito 0, Harris 0.
ADAMSON 64—Trollano 24, Rios 20, Monteclaro 5, Nalos 4, Iñigo 3,Villanueva 3, Bayran 2, Ochea 2, Polican 1, Aquino 0, Barrera 0, Garcia 0, Pedrosa 0.
Quarters: 17-13, 40-32, 64-46, 77-64
FEU 71—Cruz 16, Iñigo 14, Tolomia 10, Belo 9, Jose 6, Pogoy 6, Tamsi 5, Hargrove 5, Dennison 0, Escoto 0, Delfinado 0, Ugsang 0.
NU 62—Alolino 13, Khobuntin 9, Javelona 8,Betayene 7, Diputado 7, Neypes 6, Rosario 6, Aroga 4, Atangan 2, Alejandro 0, Celda 0, Perez 0.
Quarters: 21-16, 42-22, 55-42, 71-62
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