Far Eastern University (FEU) rode on its sturdy defense as it clobbered University of the Philippines (UP), 78-59, to seize solo third in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 80 men’s basketball tournament on Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Tamaraws limited the Fighting Maroons to their lowest scoring output this season as they raced to their third win in a row for a 4-2 win-loss record.
“It was a defensive game for us. It was the first time this year that we limited a team to below 60 points,” said FEU head coach Olsen Racela.
Ron Dennison paced the Morayta-based cagers with 16 points on top of seven rebounds and three assists while Richard Escoto chipped in 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the field.
Besides his stellar play on the offensive end, Dennison also shackled Maroons’ main man Paul Desiderio, who only scored nine points following his career-high 30 points in their stunning 98-87 win against De La Salle University.
“It was really our defense that led to our win. We were able to execute what we prepared for UP especially my job on Desiderio. I was able to limit his scoring,” said Dennison.
Ibrahim Ouattara finished with a double-double of 17 points and 13 rebounds while Juan Gomez de Liaño added 16 markers as the State U dropped to No. 4 with a 3-2 card.
It was a toe-to-toe battle in the opening period but Dennison and Escoto made sure FEU would come out on top, 18-14.
The Tamaraws began to break away in the second frame as they notched a commanding 18-point lead, 40-22, on Arvin Tolentino’s triple.
Ouattara and Gomez de Liaño fueled UP’s 16-6 rally bridging the third and fourth quarters to chop down a 24-point deficit to just 10 markers, 48-58, with 7:17 remaining.
But the Morayta-based cagers fired 17 unanswered points for a commanding 74-48 spread at the 2:53 mark, practically securing the lopsided victory.
Rookie mentor Racela kept his composure during the Maroons’ searing run, calling a crucial timeout to tell his wards a reminder that took the fight out of UP.
“I always remind them (players) that when a team makes a run, we’ll focus on (defensive) stops. Normally, when a team is on a run, they want to score immediately. So for us, we focus on stops,” said Racela.
FEU (78)– Dennison 16, Escoto 12, Orizu 8, Inigo 7, Parker 7, Comboy 6, Cani 5, Tuffin 4, Eboña 4, Ramirez 4, Tolentino 3, Stockton 2, Trinidad 0, Nunag 0, Bayquin 0.
UP (59)– Ouattara 17, Gomez de Liaño Ju 16, Desiderio 9, Dario 8, Manzo 4, Lim 3, Webb 2, Gomez de Liaño Ja 0, Vito 0, Ricafort 0, Jaboneta 0, Lao 0, Prado 0.
Quarterscores: 18-14; 40-24; 56-43; 78-59