Tamaraws corner semifinal bonus, upend Archers for third time
MANILA, Philippines — Far Eastern University mastered La Salle anew, 65-60, Sunday to clinch the No. 2 spot and the twice-to-beat semifinal advantage in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament at Mall of Asia Arena.
Mike Tolomia and Carl Cruz came through in the clutch as the Tamaraws tripped the defending champion Green Archers in the nail-biting playoff match that pushed FEU within a win of a Finals stint.
“Good thing our players persevered, especially when we were struggling in the second half,” FEU coach Nash Racela said of his Tamaraws, who also swept the Archers in the two-round eliminations.
Tolomia pumped in 13 of his 19 points in the second half, the last four during the Tamaraws’ furious 7-0 windup that shattered a 58-all deadlock. Cruz, who combined for 14 points with Roger Pogoy, also buried a crucial layup that gave the Tamaraws a three-point cushion, 63-60, with 22 seconds to go, before sinking a free throw with six ticks left for the final tally.
“We were making the right decisions and it showed the maturity of our players,” said Racela.
Mac Belo, who posted 15 points and 10 rebounds, fueled an early charge that propped up FEU to a 27-14 lead in the first half.
Armed with a twice-to-beat bonus, the Tamaraws now aim to put an end to the Archers’ title-retention bid at the start of their Final Four series on Saturday.
Top-seeded Ateneo battles National University in the other semifinal on Wednesday.
FEU also survived a thriller in women’s play, slipping past University of Santo Tomas, 62-61, to advance in the stepladder semifinals.
Claire Castro drilled 15 points, including an undergoal stab that put the Lady Tamaraws on top, 61-60, with 62 seconds left.
Loraine Ventura capped FEU’s rally by nailing the game-winning free throw with 3.8 ticks left.
The Lady Tamaraws next tackle defending champion and No. 2 La Salle on Thursday. NU earned an outright Finals berth after sweeping the eliminations.
First Game (Women)
FEU 62—Arellano 18, Castro 15, Tanaman 12, Ventura 5, Siat 4, Chan 4, Valenzona 2, Gabriel 2, Baldonado 0, Lozano 0.
UST 61—Rivera 23, Cortes 16, Reyes 6, Felisarte 4, Penaflor 4, Siapoc 3, Magdaluyo3, Angeles 2, Isanan 0, Brillantes 0.
Quarters: 11-12, 24-31, 41-48, 62-61
Second Game (Men)
FEU 65—Tolomia 19, Belo 15, Cruz 7, Pogoy 7, Jose 6, Hargrove 4, Iñigo 4, Dennison 3, Tamsi 0, Lee Yu 0, Escoto 0.
LA SALLE 60—Perkins 15, Vosotros 13, Teng 8, N. Torres 8, Van Opstal 7, Montalbo 6, Sargent 3, Rivero 0, Salem 0.
Quarters: 15-12, 32-24, 53-50, 65-60