Far Eastern University (FEU) kept its composure when National University (NU) mounted a comeback and held on for a 90-83 victory on Wednesday in Season 80 University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men’s basketball at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Tamaraws came through with the crucial baskets when they needed them most to fend off the rally of the Bulldogs late in the game seizing the solo third spot with 3-2 win-loss record.
Arvin Tolentino paced FEU’s balanced attack with 23 points while Axel Iñigo and Barkley Eboña chipped in 12 and 10 markers, respectively as the Morayta-based cagers notched their second straight win after a shaky start in the tournament.
“It was a hard-fought win. And we expected it because we’re playing three games in one week. After UST, NU and UP on Sunday so we needed this win badly,” said FEU rookie mentor Olsen Racela.
“Compared to the past games, we played consistently in this game. We didn’t start slow and we were able to sustain our game in 40 minutes,” he added.
After a hot start, FEU sustained the energy after the break and even erected its biggest lead at 70-55 on Tolentino’s three-pointer with 3:42 left in that stage.
But NU refused to quit early and after Jasper Parker’s basket gave the Tamaraws an 84-72 cushion, the Bulldogs responded with their own 7-0 assault capped by Dave Yu’s uncontested lay-up to threaten at 79-84, 2:57 left in the game.
A floater by Ebona over NU center Issa Gay stopped the bleeding for FEU, 86-79. Bulldogs guard Nico Abatayo made it 81-86 in the next possession but Tolentino sealed the win for the Tamaraws with his own floater over Gaye, 88-81, 68 seconds left in the game.
“This is one of the crucial wins we need to take if we want to move up in the team standings,” said Tolentino, a transferee from Ateneo de Manila University and is starting to be Racela’s go-to-guy in the tournament.
“We were able to share the ball well that’s we he had a lot of open looks,” the six-foot-five forward added.
Jayjay Alejandro also netted 23 points for the Bulldogs, who dropped to 2-3 in the standings. Matthew Aquino was the only other NU player to hit double digits in scoring with 13 markers.
Gaye, who was hobbled by foul trouble, finished with just eight markers but was three-of-11 from the field.
FEU 90 – Tolentino 23, Inigo 12, Ebona 10, Comboy 9, Parker 9, Tuffin 7, Dennison 6, Orizu 6, Cani 5, Escoto 3, Ramirez 0
NU 83 – Alejandro 23, Aquino 13, Gaye 8, Yu 7, Morido 7, Salem 6, Mosqueda 6, Bartlett 4, Lastimosa 3, Joson 2, Abatayo 2, Rangel 2, Tibayan 0, Diputado 0, Flores 0, Cauilan 0
QUARTER SCORES: 22-15, 48-41, 76-68, 90-83