Last year’s runner-up University of Santo Tomas survived De La Salle University in overtime, 63-58, to join Far Eastern University on top of the standings in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Skipper Jeric Teng was top scorer for UST with 23 points on top of six rebounds, three assists and three steals. Cameroonian Karim Abdul had 17 points and 10 boards.
The Growling Tigers were ahead, 51-49, with 21 seconds in the fourth quarter until La Salle rookie Jason Andre Perkins made a jumper that sent the game into overtime, 51-51.
In the first game, Far Eastern University overcame a slow start to pull off an 89-78 win over University of the East.
Veteran point guard Terrence Romeo sizzled with 23 points, nine rebounds and 12 assists while Ryan Roose Garcia chipped in 18 points, three rebounds, three assists and a couple of steals to tow the Tamaraws to their first win.
“We just reminded the boys to be patient. We struggled in the first half and I am happy that they trusted me. Terrence really played well but it was a collective effort,” said FEU mentor Nash Racela.
Anthony Hargrove added 11 points while Mark Belo scored 10 for FEU.
“It’s a continuous work in progress. We can never be satisfied, it’s just our first game and I am happy that we got this game,” added Racela.
Roi Sumang powered the Red Warriors with 22 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals and Ralf Olivares contributed 17 points. Sierra Leone native Charles Mammie was limited to just seven points on 17-minute playing time.
UE, which now has a 0-1 card, had led by as much as 11 points in the first quarter but FEU bounced back behind the efforts of Romeo and Garcia. The Tamaraws scored a 14-point lead on Garcia’s three-pointer with less than four minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Defending champion Ateneo de Manila University begins its bid against National University at 4 p.m. Sunday, while season host Adamson University battles University of the Philippines at 2 p.m.
In the juniors division, reigning titlist FEU-Diliman takes on last year’s third-placer University of Santo Tomas at 10 a.m. right after the La Salle-Zobel-Adamson game at 8 a.m.
EMIL C. NOGUERA