Carl Tamayo fuels scorching endgame as UP books finals slot
For a little over 37 minutes La Salle seemed headed for a championship appearance.
Too bad it was a 40-minute game.
Carl Tamayo, who had struggled massively in the Final Four, scored 12 of his 19 points in the last three minutes, as University of the Philippines (UP) used a searing endgame rally to stun La Salle, 78-74, Friday and book a title shot in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament at Mall of Asia Arena.
“Ever since I was a young kid, coach [Goldwyn Monteverde] kept teaching us to never give up so I just made sure to do everything I could to help the team win,” said Tamayo, whose team was down 14 midway through the final quarter before they stormed back to break the Archers’ hearts.
Tamayo, who couldn’t get things going for seven quarters in the two-game semifinals, finished with 19 points, 10 rebounds and four steals, and scored seven of the last eight points in the game as the Maroons set up a tasty Finals showdown with defending champion Ateneo.
“We never came up and [we] overcame adversity,” said UP coach Goldwyn Monteverde. “We all made the decision to fight today.”
The Maroons square off with the Blue Eagles in the best-of-three Finals that will start on Sunday.
Ateneo will be the overwhelming favorite in the championship tussle, but UP has at least one card it can play: The Maroons were the first team to beat the Blue Eagles in more than three years, and that 84-83 victory to end the elimination round will give them some sort of psychological crutch to lean on.
Down by 14 with 4:31 left in the game, Harold Alarcon touched off the UP windup with a three-pointer before Tamayo started piling up his points. The Gilas Pilipinas cadet tied the match at 73 with a layup off a steal by Joel Cagulangan in the last 1:36.
“I told them whatever happens, we’re gonna fight to the end,” said Monteverde.
La Salle’s hardworking forward Mike Phillips made it 74-73 off a split in the ensuing play, but Tamayo took charge, driving the lane and converting a three-point play that gave UP a 76-74 edge.
Evan Nelle, the hero of La Salle’s 83-80 victory in the first game of the semifinals that forced UP to reach for its twice-to-beat bonus, launched a floater that looked good until it rolled out of the rim. Tamayo collared the rebound and iced the game with insurance charities, before egging on the UP crowd to get loud.
“It was emotional for me to see my teammates fight and never really giving up,” said Tamayo, who was teary-eyed as the Maroons joined their supporters in singing the school hymn.
Malick Diouf collected 14 points, 17 rebounds, four steals, and two blocks, while Alarcon finished with 14 points, six rebounds and two steals.
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