Drop axe on favored Falcons, drop axe on favored Falcons
MANILA—Far Eastern University turned into nightmare what looked like a dream Adamson season.
With rookie Cris Tolomia waxing hot, the Tamaraws came out charging in the second half to overcome the Falcons’ twice-to-beat edge with a 78-74 decision in their winner-take-all semifinal showdown Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The upset propelled the No. 3 FEU squad back to the championship series where the Tamaraws will try to avenge their disastrous Finals showing against top-seeded Ateneo last season.
The Blue Eagles nailed the first title berth last Thursday after taming the University of Santo Tomas Tigers, 69-66, in their own Final Four encounter.
Game 1 of the best-of-three Finals will kick off at 3 p.m. this Saturday, also at the Big Dome.
“We had our struggles, but slowly, the team improved as the season went on,” said FEU coach Bert Flores.
Tolomia, the younger brother of former PBA player Chester, came through in crucial stretches in the second half to help the Tamaraws erect an 11-point lead, 70-59, with three minutes left.
“I was really challenged after our first game,” said Tolomia.
Tolomia finished with a game-high 19 points and seven rebounds and four assists after a dismal outing in the Tamaraws’ first win, 59-49, where he missed all his six attempts from the field.
Far Eastern emerged only as the seventh No. 3 team to overcome the twice-to-beat bonus of a No. 2 squad since the league laid down the Final Four format in 1994.
It was a bitter loss for Adamson, which blew its best chance to win the crown with an experienced lineup that powered the Falcons to their best run—a No. 2 spot and a semifinal bonus— in the last two decades.
And the Falcons were overwhelming favorites to oust the Tamaraws after derailing the Eagles’ bid for an unbeaten sweep of the eliminations with a 62-46 rout last week.
Next year, the Falcons will have to do without four key veterans with the graduation of guards Lester Alvarez and Jerick Cañada, shooter Jan Colina and big man Eric Camson.
Terrence Romeo, last year’s top rookie, also had 15 points—including a pair of buffer free throws with just four seconds left—to go with six rebounds and six assists.
Adamson moved within 74-76, time down to 51.2 seconds, before Romeo settled the issue with two free throws.
Cañada knocked in 12 of his 14 markers in the final period, including back-to-back triples that pushed the Falcons within three, 74-71, with less than two minutes to go.
FEU 78—Tolomia 19, Romeo 15, Garcia 11, Escoto 10, Ramos 10, Cruz 8, Exciminiano 5, Pogoy 0, Bringas 0, Knuttel 0.
ADAMSON 74—Cañada 14, Camson 13, Nuyles 12, Lozada 9, Alvarez 9, Colina 8, Manyara 4, Petilos 3, Brondial 2, Cabrera 0.
Quarters: 18-14, 33-35, 57-50, 78-74
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