Gonzales comes up clutch in overtime, propels first win over AdMU 

FEU Advocate
October 14, 2023 10:07

By Andrei M. Barrantes

Team captain LJay Gonzales and Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws prevailed over Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU) Blue Eagles, 66-61, in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 86 men’s basketball tourney today, October 14, at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

In a post-game interview, Gonzales, who dedicated the game to his mother, deflected the credit when asked about the win.

“Thankful kami sa mga coaches kasi nandyan sila lagi sa amin na nagre-remind. Kanina nga bad start ako kasi pinagalitan ako ni Coach Denok, gusto pa ako murahin bago maglaro nang maayosThankful din kami sa mga assistant coach[es] and happy kami na nakuha namin ito (We are thankful for our coaches because they are always there to remind us. I actually had a bad start earlier in the game and Coach Denok almost had to curse me out to play good… We’re also thankful to our assistant coaches and we’re happy to get this win),” Gonzales said.

FEU had a struggling start to the quarter as AdMU easily countered their pick-and-rolls. It would not be until 5:51 into the first quarter that the Morayta-based cagers would make a field goal with an easy dish to James Tempra.

The quarter was capped off by a moving buzzer beater three by Xyrus Torres, 13-11.

The Tams unclogged the paint area in the second quarter, opting for Tempra post-ups and drives to the basket by newly-appointed starter Patrick Sleat.

FEU led by as much as seven points, nearly erased by Ateneo’s Jared Brown streaking eight quick markers. The Tams ended the quarter on a Gonzales isolation to the basket, 30-26.

In the second half, FEU clamped Ateneo’s triangle offense going on a 10-5 run to end the third quarter, 45-37.

FEU wasted no time at the start of the fourth and scored seven straight points to extend the lead to 14.

The Gonzales-led cagers hit a shooting slump with four minutes left which AdMU capitalized with a 10-point run to crawl back 56-55 with one minute left in regulation.

With 31 seconds left, the score was tied on two Chris Koon free throws. A Gonzales turnaround jumper hit left iron, leading to overtime.

Both teams showed exhaustion in overtime, missing free throws and wide open three-pointers. With 1:31 left, Gonzales broke the deadlock connecting on an elbow jumper.

After getting a stop, Gonzales again hit a step-back jumper, extending the lead to four. FEU would capitalize on AdMU exceeding penalty fouls, acing three more free throws, 66-61.

Head coach Denok Miranda spoke on the team effort made to clinch their first win.

Syempre ang ganda ng [laro] namin dahil as in total team effort. Coaching staff, players and then yung sa management namin. Tulong-tulong kami para makapanalo kami at least isa kasi alam namin sa sariili namin [na] bound to win na kami nung mga succeeding games eh.(Our play was great because it was a total team effort. From the coaching staff, players, even the management. We worked together to win because we knew we were bound to win at some point),” he said.

Gonzales led the Tams with 21 points and seven rebounds on 52% shooting, while Torres bounced back with 13 markers with two triples. As Sleat chipped in nine points and seven boards.

With their first win against Ateneo since 2019, the green-and-gold squad rose to a 1-4 win-loss record and will face Adamson University on October 18 at the same venue.

(Photo by Justine Jaerigg/FEU Advocate)