Defending champion Far Eastern University (FEU) slipped past a determined University of the Philippines (UP), 63-60, on Saturday in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 79 men’s basketball tournament at the Araneta Coliseum.
Down by 20 points in the first quarter, 8-28, and nine at the half, 27-36, the Tamaraws outscored the Fighting Maroons in the last two periods through Raymar Jose’s superb play.
Jose scored 14 of his 20 points in the second half plus 12 rebounds. Allen Trinidad and Monbert Arong contributed nine points and eight points, respectively, to stretch the Tamaraws’ winning streak to seven games. FEU also strengthened its hold of the second spot with an 8-2 win-loss record.
“I like to carry the team to victory despite we’re down,” Jose told The Manila Times. “I performed aggressively and showed energy. I’m happy that my teammates were able to follow. We did good in defense and trusted coach Nash’s system. UP played great today.”
It was one of the best performances of the Fighting Maroons as they opened the second quarter with a 20-point advantage courtesy of Paul Desiderio and Jett Manuel. But FEU managed to close the gap after Jose and Trinidad delivered a combined 11 points in the second period.
FEU though sustained its attack in the third period behind Jose and Kevin Ebona to forge a 46-all deadlock at the last quarter.
Prince Orizu’s back-to-back baskets resulted in a 57-48 lead in the last five minutes. Manuel and Desiderio scored three points each to help the Fighting Maroons reduce the deficit, 57-61, at the last two-minute mark.
Jose scored a basket, 63-57, with 1:30 left in the game but Manuel answered with a three-pointer with only a minute remaining. UP could not score in the dying seconds allowing FEU to escape with a slim win.
“Before going to the game, we expected it to be tough because UP was playing really, really well,” FEU coach Nash Racela told The Manila Times. “We became aggressive in the second half. I think the players created better decision in the second half.”
“Nothing is special we’re not looking at the streak but I’m happy we were able to come back and win.”
Manuel and Desiderio posted 16 and 13 points, respectively, to lead the Fighting Maroons. UP’s win-loss record dropped to 3-8.
In the second game, Adamson University snapped a two-game losing streak with a 79-71 win over University of the East (UE) behind the spectacular performance of Cameroonian Papi Sarr and rookie Jerrick Ahanmisi.
“It’s been awhile and at last we’re able to arrest our skid,” said Adamson coach Franz Pumaren. “We were lucky to survive this game because some of the players are coming from sickness. We got good contribution from the bench also and it was good for us.”
Sarr tallied 12 of his 25 points in the third period on top of 15 rebounds and three blocks. Ahanmisi contributed 17 points while Robbie Manalang had nine points also for the Falcons. Adamson improved its win-loss record to 5-5.
Adamson lost to UE 57-64 in the first round.
“Being a young team we struggled a bit and we will use this win as a springboard for the upcoming games. This is the price of having a young team, we have to fast-track everything,” added Pumaren.
Alvin Pasaol scored 16 points to lead UE. The Red Warriors’ win-loss record dropped to 2-8.