Defending champion Far Eastern U repeated over University of the Philippines on Saturday afternoon, 63-60 to inch closer towards a Final Four berth in the UAAP Season 79 men’s basketball tournament at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
After a sluggish start that saw them fall behind by as many as 20 points, the Tamaraws regained their bearings in the second frame and thoroughly outplayed the Fighting Maroons in the second half on the way to their seven straight victory and eighth overall in 10 matches.
The win assured themselves of at least a playoff for a semifinals spot.
Skipper Raymar Jose banged in a double-double performance of 20 points and 12 rebounds while taking charge along with the other Tamaraws in a methodical showing in the second half where they put the clamps down on the fast-starting Fighting Maroons.
“Masyado kaming passive sa bad start namin. Bumalik lang kami sa sistema, we stayed positive and kumpiyansa lang kami sa depensa namin,” said the 6-foot-4 Jose, visibly pleased with how they were able to limit UP to just 24 markers in the second half.
Jett Manuel had an all-around outing of 16 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three steals while Paul Desiderio and Jerson Prado added at least 10 markers but they still could not prevent UP from absorbing its eighth loss in 11 matches, moving on the brink of an early elimination.
Tied at 46-apiece at the end of the third frame, the Tamaraws went on decisive 13-4 run to take control and needed some big defensive stops in the stretch to close out the Fighting Maroons. – Jerome Lagunzad
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FEU 63 – Jose 20, Trinidad 9, Arong 8, Inigo 7, Orizu 6, Ebona 5, Tuffin 4, Comboy 2, Holmqvist 2, Escoto 0, Dennison 0, Denila 0, Bayquin 0
UP 60 – Manuel 16, Desiderio 13, Prado 10, Lim 5, Harris 4, Gomez de Liano 3, Dario 3, Moralde 2, Webb 2, Vito 2, Asilum 0, Jaboneta 0, Romero 0
Quarterscores: 8-28, 27-36, 46-46, 63-60.