FEU reclaims UAAP basketball glory; bags 20th title

FEU Advocate
December 02, 2015 22:23

By Eryl Justine L. Bacnis

After 10 years of heartbreaks and unsuccessful stints toward the gold medal, they have finally won it all.

Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws have successfully placed themselves on top of college basketball after edging out perennial contenders, University of Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers, 67-62, in Game Three of University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) season 78 men's basketball Finals at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena in Pasay City, December 2.

Both teams started slow in the opening quarter with UST on the driver's seat most of the time. They led 17-11 behind the hot shooting of Karim Abdul and Ed Daquioag, but FEU stormed back with a 7-2 run courtesy of Mike Tolomia, Prince Orizu, and Mark Belo to end the frame behind by just one, 19-18.

Quarter number two has almost the same story as the first one, with both the Tamaraws and the Growling Tigers exchanging baskets. UST led 28-24 after a pair of free throws went in, but FEU had the last laugh after closing out the first half with a 6-2 scoring outburst to send it to a 30-all deadlock.

It was in the third canto when FEU exploded offensively to grab the game's biggest lead, 51-41, but UST closed out the quarter with five straight points capped by a Marvin Lee triple to erase the double-digit deficit, 51-46.

The Morayta-based cagers were ahead by five to start the final quarter, but UST regained their touch from the offensive end, sparking a 13-2 scoring spree behind Daquioag, Louie Vigil, and Lee to create a six-point cushion, 59-53, with 4:27 left.

FEU, meanwhile, did not let the deficit to widen, dropping a 10-1 run of their own behind the exploits of Roger Pogoy and Tolomia to take back the upper hand, 63-60, with a minute remaining in the game.

Daquioag converted a lay-up with 54.5 seconds left to make it a one-point game, 63-62, but that proved to be their last hurrah as UST played the fouling game to freeze the clock. FEU converted four out of six free throws courtesy of Tolomia, Belo, and Russel Escoto to seal the victory and the title.

"My initial reaction was just to be thankful to the Lord, for it is a hard fought game," said FEU head coach Nash Racela, after the championship victory.

"Mindset ko lang ay ibigay lahat dahil wala ng bukas (My mindset was just to give all because there's no tomorrow)," said Belo, who cramped up during the last few sequences of the match.

"Andun 'yung pressure pero kailangan naming mag-step up para manalo (The pressure was there but we really need to stet up for us to win)," he added.

Belo was adjudged as the Finals' Most Valuable Player (MVP), leading FEU with 23 points and eight rebounds. Pogoy added 14, while Tolomia chipped in 13. UST, meanwhile, were led by Daquioag and Abdul with 23 and 12, respectively.

Their win over the Growling Tigers bagged the team's 20th title and a fitting way to bounce back from last year's heartbreaking loss against National University (NU) Bulldogs.

(See full album: UAAP Season 78 Finals Game 3 - FEU vs UST)