Twice in the game, Far Eastern University surrendered comfortable double-digit spreads with a mix of missed shots and costly turnovers that led to huge University of the Philippines runs.
Finally, in overtime, Ken Tuffin had enough.
The third-year standout went 5-of-6 from beyond the arc and hit the triple that gave the Tamaraws for good in overtime for an 82-79 victory over the Maroons in UAAP Season 82 men’s basketball tournament Sunday at Mall of Asia Arena.
Tuffin finished with 18 points, including the three-pointer that helped FEU shatter the final deadlock at 77, before Wendell Comboy added another basket that iced the final count with 18.7 ticks remaining.
“I was adjusting positions, so the whole year I’ve been playing the two, three and now the four since we lack players there,” said Tuffin, who entered the game averaging just four points a game. “That was a hard transition for me but honestly I just didn’t give up. I mean, I know, I know what I’m capable of. I work hard and I just didn’t give up.”
“He’s been putting in the work,” said FEU coach Olsen Racela. “He struggled in the past games, but all players go through that and what matters is what you do when that happens. He just stayed the course.”
Tuffin may have helped FEU create shockwaves with the upset of the Maroons, but his was not the best individual performance of the day.
That belonged to La Salle’s Justin Baltazar, who bounced back from a sub-par performance against University of Santo Tomas and tallied season-bests of 25 points and 25 rebounds as the Archers whipped the National U Bulldogs, 85-61, for their fourth win in eight games.
“I just wanted to play better because I know I didn’t play well against UST,” said Baltazar, who was held to just four points and four rebounds against the Tigers. “We’re all here to correct our mistakes from the first round.”
The win by FEU and La Salle turned the hunt for coveted Final Four slots into a frantic footrace, with defending champion Ateneo the only sure thing as it makes an unabated march to the top seeding with its 8-0 record.
UP took a hit after a second straight loss for a 5-3 record and as it stands, only two wins separate the second to seventh-placed teams.
La Salle and FEU now share third spot with UST (4-4), while University of the East and Adamson are one full game behind at (3-5).
“We just took on a playoff mindset for the second round,” said La Salle coach Gian Nazario.
Andrei Caracut added 16 points for La Salle.
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