Far Eastern University (FEU) grabbed the solo lead by stopping University of the Philippines (UP), 68-57, on Wednesday in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 78 men’s basketball tournament at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Tamaraws improved their standings to eight wins and a loss while the Fighting Maroons absorbed their sixth defeat against three victories.
Roger Pogoy and Mark Belo led FEU’s blistering assault, scoring a combined 29 points as the Tamaraws averted what could be an embarrassing upset to the Fighting Maroons.
FEU was just leading by one in the fourth quarter when Belo, Pogoy and Francis Tamsi powered an 11-0 run to post a commanding 56-44 advantage with under seven minutes left.
The Fighting Maroons never recovered their composure after that.
Earlier, De La Salle University repulsed University of the East (UE), 72-64, to gain its fifth win in nine games.
Despite UE’s tough defense, veteran Jeron Teng still finished with 20 points, six rebounds, three assists and a steal to lead the Green Archers. “UE showed more effort in their pressing,” he said.
Thomas Torres backed him up with 15 markers, five boards and an assist while Larry Muyang contributed nine points on top of 11 boards, and Paolo Rivero and Joshua Torralba added eight points each.
“It’s a hard-fought game. Good thing the players got composure in the end. I told them that if anyone is open, they have the license to take it,” said Green Archers head coach Juno Sauler.
La Salle took the solo third with 5-4, leaving Ateneo De Manila University at fourth with 4-4 mark.
The Red Warriors, on the other hand, dropped to 3-6.
Skipper Chris Javier and Emil Palma scored 14 each for UE.
The Green Archers proved too strong in the painted area as they grabbed 54 rebounds against UE’s 40. They also made connected 19 of their 26 free throws.
La Salle will be facing FEU on Sunday.
“FEU is a strong team. They are a mature team. We have five games left and every game is important [in the second round],” added Sauler.
In badminton, National University moved within a win of claiming the back-to-back men’s titles as it trampled La Salle, 3-0, in the finals opener.
Peter Magnaye starred anew for the Bulldogs as he manhandled Gerald Sibayan, 23-21, 21-8 in the first singles before teaming up with Alvin Morada in a masterful 21-18, 21-14 victory over Sibayan and Anton Cayanan in the first doubles to frustrate the Green Archers.
“I’m very contented with the performance of my players and hopefully we can finish this on Saturday,” said NU coach Jojo Mance.
The Bulldogs, who are unbeaten in 17 ties since last season, go for the jugular in Game 2 scheduled at 8 a.m. on Saturday at the Rizal Memorial Badminton Hall.
University of the Philippines also closed in for a second straight women’s title by repulsing Ateneo, 3-1, in Game 1 of their best-of-three series.