Far Eastern University (FEU) posted a thrilling 67-62 win over University of Santo Tomas (UST) in Game 3 to reclaim the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 78 men’s basketball crown on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
It was the Tamaraws’ 20th crown overall – their first since winning the 2005 championship trophy ten years ago.
FEU won the best-of-three championship series, 2-1, with the Tamaraws also winning in Game 1 (75-64) before the Growling Tigers mounted a 62-56 comeback win in Game 2.
“I just told the players to focus on every moment, every possession. Laruin lang natin and hopefully get the result that we want. It was a hard game. Going into the game, I just kept on reminding them. When we’re struggling, we just kept on believing. Sabi ko sa kanila laban lang tayo,” said FEU mentor Nash Racela.
Veteran Mac Belo fired 23 points on top of eight rebounds and a block for the Tamaraws while Roger Pogoy and Mike Tolomia provided the needed backup as they combined for 27 points.
“Ang mindset ko talaga ibigay na ang lahat dahil alam kong wala nang bukas. Nandun ‘yung pressure pero nag-commit ‘yung bawat isa na effort lang kaya nakabalik kami sa game” said Belo. “Yung pagkatalo namin sa finals [last year against National University]ibinaon na namin sa limot. Ngayon ginawa lang namin ‘yung tama.”
Belo averaged 17.3 points, 10.7 rebounds and 1.0 block in the series to take the Finals Most Valuable Player award.
FEU dominated the rebounding department anew with 45 boards compared to UST’s 37.
They also had a 33.33-percent field goal shooting, way better than their 27.12 in Game 2, and had 21-of-26 from the free throw line.
Graduating Ed Daquioag and Cameroonian Karim Abdul were the only UST players who finished in double digits. Daquioag scored 21 points and four boards while Abdul contributed 12 markers and five rebounds.
Team captain Kevin Ferrer was limited to just six points and five rebounds in 39 minutes of action – far from his 29-point performance in Game 2.
In the women’s division, newly minted back-to-back MVP Afril Bernardino had a double-double effort of 17 points and 18 rebounds as National University moved on the cusp of completing a second straight perfect season with a 91-59 drubbing of Ateneo.
The Lady Bulldogs led by as much as 38 points to ex- tend their winning streak to 38 games.
Katrina Guytingco shot 14 points while Danica Jose, a member of the Mythical Team, added 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Lady Eagles.
The loss ended Ateneo’s five-game winning streak which dated back in the eli-mination round. The Lady Eagles was the No. 4 seed in the playoffs.