Gonzales drills game winner contra AdMU

FEU Advocate
October 25, 2023 12:13

By Andrei M. Barrantes

Far Eastern University (FEU) team captain LJay Gonzales swished the game-winning triple to get the 62-59 win against Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU) Blue Eagles in their second round meet in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 86 men’s basketball tourney today, October 25, at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

Lagi naman ni-reremind sa akin ni Coach Denok na ako ‘yung titira sa last shot, so miracle ‘yung nangyari. Kasi ‘di ko rin naman expect ‘yon na papasok eh (Coach Denok always reminds me that I am the one who will shoot the final shot. But what happened was a miracle because I did not really expect it to go in),” Gonzales said in a post-game interview.

FEU slumped early in the first quarter, struggling both on quick dishes to the paint and perimeter shots.

With gunner Xyrus Torres failing to get the lid off the basket, Morayta guards Gonzales and Patrick Sleat carried the scoring load, scoring seven and six respectively.

Leading into the second quarter, the Tams were holding onto a 15-9 lead, quickly decreased by Blue Eagle Ian Espinosa who scored two quick markers.

Torres, who attempted a grand total of six shots in the first quarter and made none, picked up the pace with two quick baskets of his own.

At the 3:49 mark, the green-and-gold squad would momentarily lose the lead with a Chris Koon three-pointer, which was immediately countered by an and-one play by Faty.

The Morayta cagers played fast and aggressive in the first half, scoring seven fastbreak points and 12 points off turnovers from the Katipunan cagers.

At the final possession of the third, Morayta cager Jorick Bautista waved off a Miguel Ona pick, opting for an isolation play. Bautista connected on a step-back jumper at the baseline, 44-41.

During the final frame, Bautista kept the hot hand, converting on a mid range shot and his second three-pointer.

Gonzales got it going and scored five straight points to push the lead to double digits.

Similar to their round one encounter, Ateneo went on a 11-0 run that depleted the double-digit FEU lead to just one.

With less than a minute remaining, Gonzales connected on a quick scoop over Obasa, Koon, and Ballungay, pushing the lead to three.

The following possession, the green-and-gold team captain made a perfectly timed swipe forcing an Ateneo turnover.

With 14 seconds left, Ateneo’s Amos got the green light on a crucial three-pointer, tying the game at 59-all.

Sleat fumbled the ball on a drive to the basket in the following possession, triggering a jump ball call in favor of Ateneo with 5.8 seconds remaining.

After the inbound, Torres quickly fouled Ateneo’s Jared Brown to reduce possession.

In a crucial Ateneo inbound, Ballungay threw an outlet pass with a little too much force, going out of bounds and in the hands of FEU.

With 3.9 left to hoist up a shot, Gonzales, tightly guarded by Ballungay, improvised and swished a one handed up-and-under shot behind the arc, winning the nail-biter 62-59.

Head Coach Denok Miranda elaborated on Gonzales’ importance to the team and how he stepped up in this match against the defending champions.

Syempre, si LJay talaga ‘yung heart and soul ng FEU. Grabe 'yung nilaro niya ngayon… Pri-nove niya sa’min, sa mga teammate niya, at syempre sa FEU community na all-out siya through[out] the game (LJay is the heart and soul of FEU. His performance today was incredible… He proved to us, his teammates, and of course, the FEU community that he was all-out throughout the game),” he said.

Gonzales led the pack on both ends with 19 points, nine rebounds, five assists, four steals and shot 53% from the field, 

Sleat backed the scoring with 12 markers and Bautista completed the double-digit scoring leaders with 10 points and two crucial three-pointers down the stretch.

The Morayta cagers complete the season-sweep against Ateneo for the first time in eight years as they improve to a 3-5 win-loss record ahead of their matchup against Adamson University Soaring Falcons on October 29 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

(Photo by Karch Rafael/FEU Advocate)