FEU outlasts UE in double-overtime classic
MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE 3) The Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws snapped their two-game losing streak in spectacular fashion, out-lasting the University of the East (UE) Red Warriors in a classic double-overtime showdown, 98-94, Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.
It was FEU's first victory in the second round of the UAAP Season 76 men's basketball tournament, having lost back-to-back games to National University and La Salle after sweeping the first round.
Terrence Romeo more than made up for his subpar play in their past two games as he played for 41 minutes, overcame an ankle injury, scored a career-high 30 points and drilled the three-pointer that proved to be the dagger in the second overtime period.
"Both (joy and relief)," FEU coach Nash Racela said when asked how he felt after the game. "Joy because my players didn't give up. I told them, anything is possible. Nothing is impossible, and, at least tonight, they believed that."
"And I am so proud of them. This is the first time I will be saying that I am so, so proud of them," Racela added.
The Tamaraws trailed, 77-84, in the first overtime after a lay-up by Ralf Olivares off a dish by UE star guard Roi Sumang.
But Romeo got a lay-up to go with 17 seconds left to make it 79-84, then Gryann Mendoza stole an inbound pass and drained a corner triple with 14.3 seconds to go, 82-84.
Sumang was then sent to the line after a duty foul by Romeo, but he could only covert one of two freebies.
With Romeo serving as a decoy, Mike Tolomia was able to make a three-pointer with just 3.1 seconds left to tie the game at 85. Sumang's heave at the buzzer was well off the mark.
In the second overtime, the Red Warriors built a 91-87 lead, with Olivares again providing the capper by draining a wide-open three-pointer.
Mendoza and Romeo again came to the Tamaraws' rescue. Mendoza made another triple, and then following a Sumang foul, Romeo made two charities to give his team back the lead, 92-91. Olivares turned it over in the next UE possession, and off a pass from Tolomia, Romeo swished a dagger triple to make it a four-point game, 95-91, with a little over two minutes left to play.
"I also feel relieved, kasi natapos eh, and it was double-overtime," said Racela. "Itong mga ganitong games, it just makes you stronger."
Racela also pointed out that the Tamaraws played without former UAAP Most Valuable Player RR Garcia, who was serving a one-game suspension.
"To think RR wasn't there," he mused. "I think you (the media) were asking me how to solve the problem of losing RR in this game, and that's the answer. I had to use Archie Inigo, Joel Lee Yu, even Jeson Delfinado and Joshua Aguilon."
"But that's what teams are about -- guys who are willing to step up," he said.
The Warriors were still able to threaten after two free throws by Gino Jumao-as made it 94-95 with 51.7 seconds to go, but Anthony Hargrove converted a lay-up, and then Romeo won a jump ball against UE's Adrian Santos that allowed FEU to clinch the victory.
The Tamaraws could have won the game in regulation, but they squandered a 17-point lead, 65-48, early in the fourth quarter as UE came charging back behind the efforts of Sumang and Olivares.
FEU still led 70-63 with 2:29 to go in the game, but Sumang and Olivares combined to score the last seven points of regulation. An Olivares jumper started the comeback, followed by three free throws by Sumang after he was fouled by Tolomia in the act of shooting.
A baseline jumper by Olivares with 50 seconds to go tied the game at 70-all.
Both teams had their chances to win the game, but Sumang missed a triple, Charles Mammie flubbed a putback, and Olivares also missed a jumper in UE's last possession of the game. Romeo, meanwhile, was off the mark on his three-point heave.
The two squads exchanged buckets in the first few possessions of the first overtime, before a Mammie lay-up gave the Warriors an 80-75 lead with 2:29 to go. They extended that lead to seven points, 84-77, with 23 seconds left only to see the Tamaraws score eight points in the span of 17 seconds.
With players from both teams cramping up in the second overtime, it was Romeo who had enough gas left in his tank as he rose to the occasion and buried the dagger.
"Ni-remind ko lang ang teammates ko na kailangan namin mag-step up, especially 'yung wala masyadong minutes. Sila Inigo, ang laki ng tinulong at 'yung mga bench players namin," said Romeo.
With the victory, the Tamaraws hiked their record to 8-2 and strengthened their hold on the top spot of the league standings.
Meanwhile, the Warriors saw their four-game winning streak snapped in painful fashion.
"Kumbaga, tragedy sa akin eh. Malapit ka na sa pier eh, nabangga ka pa, lumubog ka pa," rued UE coach Boycie Zamar. "Kailangan kami umahon, kailangan kami mag-survive."
Sumang was nearly able to match Romeo, as he played for 45 minutes, and scored 25 points to go along with seven rebounds, but missed a crucial free throw in the first overtime that could have sealed the deal for the Red Warriors.
Mammie played a game-high 46 minutes, scored 17 points and grabbed 27 boards -- the most of any player since 2003. But the big man also missed seven of 12 free throws, including crucial freebies in the final 36 seconds of the first overtime.
Neither team shot well, with UE shooting 39.7% and FEU shooting 38%, but the Tams were better from beyond the arc, making 34.1% of their attempts, including clutch triples.
UE now has a 5-4 record, tied with the Ateneo Blue Eagles in the league standings.
FEU 98 - Romeo 30, Mendoza 15, Tolomia 13, Hargrove 12, Cruz 9, Inigo 6, Belo 6, Pogoy 5, Sentcheu 2, Lee Yu 0, Delfinado 0, Aguilon 0
UE 94 - Sumang 25, Olivares 21, Mammie 17, Noble 11, Santos 6, Jumao-as 5, Casajeros 4, Galanza 3, Javier 2, Olayon 0, Sumido 0, Hernandez 0, Guion 0, Flores 0, Alberto 0
Quarter-scoring: 25-13, 42-31, 59-46, 70-70, 85-85, 98-94