FEU grounds Ateneo in OT to go 2-0 in UAAP
MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) The Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws nipped the Ateneo Blue Eagles in overtime, 79-75, to win their second straight game in the UAAP Season 76 men's basketball tournament Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Terrence Romeo scored 21 points -- including the game-clinching free throws -- and grabbed nine rebounds as the Tamaraws stunned the five-time defending UAAP champions.
"Ateneo is a strong team... We were just fortunate we were able to get the win," Tamaraws coach Nash Racela said after the game.
FEU took a 66-62 lead with 1:55 to go in the final quarter, but Chris Newsome scored four straight points, including two pressure-packed free throws with 10.7 seconds to go, to force the extension.
Former UAAP Most Valuable Player RR Garcia missed a jumper that could have won the game in regulation.
The Tams struck first in overtime, taking a 73-67 lead after a jumper by Romeo with 2:32 to go. But the Eagles refused to go down without a fight and scored six consecutive points -- the last two coming from the free throw line courtesy of veteran point guard Juami Tiongson that tied the game at 73-all with 50 seconds to go.
It was Roger Pogoy who scored the go-ahead bucket for the Tamaraws, as he put back a miss by Garcia that made it a 75-73 game with only 27 seconds left.
Romeo, who struggled with his outside shooting throughout the game, iced the win for FEU at the free throw line.
"If you look at the big picture, small steps ang importante," Racela said. "So you get all the wins that you can get. Kahit gaano kahirap, kahit gaano kadikit. Kahit overtime or triple overtime, we'll take it."
"The kind of competition that we have this year -- any team can beat you," he stressed. "And almost all the teams are stronger than us. So tanggap lang kami ng tanggap, at kung mananalo kami then that's good for us."
The Blue Eagles, playing without star guard Kiefer Ravena who is out indefinitely due to an injury, were led by Ryan Buenafe who scored a career-high 29 points and grabbed 15 rebounds.
Mike Tolomia also played a splendid game for FEU, scoring 16 points and grabbing five boards, while Garcia finished with 13 markers.
FEU now resides on top of the UAAP leaderboard with a 2-0 record, while the five-time defending champions Ateneo are in unfamiliar territory as they go 0-2 for the season.
It was the Tamaraws' first victory over the Blue Eagles since the second round of Season 73. It is also the first time that Ateneo has started a season 0-2 since 2003.
But Racela warned that the Blue Eagles remain a formidable team.
"Ang galing di ba?" he said. "Lumabas na 'yung championship poise, 'yung one-ness nila. Now they're learning how to play without Kiefer."
Ateneo took a slim 33-31 lead at the half thanks to Nico Elorde, who drained two free throws off a foul from Mike Tolomia.
The Blue Eagles had raced off to a quick start, taking a 14-4 lead in the opening frame with Ryan Buenafe scoring nine points.
The Tamaraws responded, however, with Romeo and Gryann Mendoza hitting key triples that allowed FEU to go into the half down only four, 18-14.
The two squads were neck-and-neck in the second frame, and a jumper by Anthony Hargrove tying the contest at 31-all with 33 seconds to go.
But Elorde, who scored seven points in the first half, hustled hard for the ball and wound up getting fouled.
Elorde finished the game with nine points but fouled out late in overtime. Newsome finished with 17 points and seven rebounds.
FEU 79 - Romeo 21, Tolomia 16, Garcia 13, Pogoy 8, Hargrove 8, Cruz 5, Mendoza 4, Jose 2, Belo 2, Sentcheu 0
ADMU 75 - Buenafe 29, Newsome 17, Elorde 9, Tiongson 7, Pessumal 6, Erram 4, Capacio 3, Murphy 0, Golla 0, Babilonia 0, Asistio 0
Quarter-scoring: 14-18, 31-33, 53-44, 66-66, 79-75