Far Eastern University (FEU) launched an explosive blitz in the fourth quarter to post a 92-81 come-from behind win over University of the East (UE) and grab the solo lead on Wednesday in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 78 men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Veteran Mark Belo sizzled with 24 points, eight rebounds, five assists and a couple of blocks while Mike Tolomia contributed 15 points and eight assists as the Tamaraws cruised to their fourth win in five games.
“We played better defense in the second half and held them to 31. So if we consistently play defense, we’ll be okay,” said FEU head coach Nash Racela.
Monbert Arong had a career-high 14-point showing while Raymar Jose chipped in 13 markers, 11 boards and two assists, and Roger Pogoy added 10 points and four boards for FEU.
The Red Warriors fell to 2-3.
Edison Batiller led UE with 18 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals, with Chris Javier, Clark Derige and Paul Varilla backing him up with a combined 32-point output.
But their efforts were not enough to lift the Red Warriors to another upset win.
The 6-foot-2 Derige unloaded a booming triple to give UE a 12-point lead (71-59) going into the final frame. Led by Belo, Tolomia and Pogoy, the Tamaraws, however, retaliated with a 33-10 bomb in the fourth quarter to complete the comeback.
“We got the lead middle of the fourth quarter. It’s a tough UE team. Mahirap talaga [sila kalaban]but we actually expected that. Luckily, in the second half, we only had seven turnovers,” added Racela.
FEU had a 49.21 percent field goal shooting as compared to UE’s 38.55 percent in the field.
The Tamaraws connected 22 of their 34 total free throws and scored 28 fastbreak points.
In the nightcap, defending champion National University (NU) bucked a slow start to turn back Adamson University, 75-54, for its second straight win.
NU improved to 2-3 while Adamson remained winless in five outings.
In the women’s division over at the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagle gym, reigning champion NU survived UE, 66-63, for its fifth straight win.
Season 77 Most Valuable Player Afril Bernardino got 13 points for the Lady Bulldogs, who extended their winning run to 21 games.
University of Santo Tomas (UST) downed Adamson University, 70-67, while De La Salle University hurdled past Ateneo, 44-43. UST and La Salle are sharing the second spot with 4-1 each.