FEU routs UP behind Romeo's career-high
MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE 1) Terrence Romeo set a new career-high with 33 points as the Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws closed out their UAAP Season 76 elimination round campaign with a 87-69 rout of the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Tamaraws, who swept the first round of the tournament, wrapped up the elimination round with a 10-4 record and are assured of at least a playoff for the twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four of the UAAP Season 76 men's basketball tournament.
Romeo, one of the top candidates for the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award, set a new collegiate career-high of 33 points on 11-of-23 shooting, and added nine rebounds, five assists and two steals.
"This season has been very unpredictable, and you never know what will happen in the next few days," said FEU coach Nash Racela, who saw his team lose four of their first five games in the second round. "I'm not saying na nandoon na kami sa level na gusto namin, and we're still working on a lot of things."
Romeo committed two offensive fouls early in the first period, but the Tamaraws were still able to build a 20-8 lead in the quarter with Mike Tolomia providing an offensive spark off the bench.
Romeo was able to put his mark in the game in the second quarter, finishing the first half with 17 points as the Tamaraws built a 46-28 lead.
FEU led by as much as 22 points, 54-32, early in the third quarter, but UP's Raul Soyud came alive in that period as the Fighting Maroons kept within striking distance.
UP cut the lead down to 11 twice, 61-72 and 63-74, in the fourth quarter behind scoring efforts from Sam Marata and Kyles Lao, but Romeo scored on a lay-up that sparked a 9-0 run, which ended the Fighting Maroons' hopes of making a comeback.
The loss dropped the Maroons' record to 0-13 going into their last game against University of the East next Wednesday.
Meanwhile, FEU faces a long break before the start of the Final Four, something that they also went through between the first and the second rounds of eliminations.
"The experience we had before the second round started, I think it helped us a lot. The good thing about it is, 'yun ang baon namin going into the Final Four. We've learned our lessons as a team and as individuals," said Racela.
"I'm hoping we will do a better job in the next few days," he said, adding that the Tamaraws are hoping to clinch a spot in the top two.
"Lahat ng kalaban, mahirap. You can't really choose. The only advantage that we will have is the twice-to-beat. But you never know. Ang dami pang pwedeng mangyari."
Marata scored 23 points for UP, while Soyud finished with 14 points and 18 rebounds, but the Maroons missed 13 of their 26 free throw attempts, sorely denting their chances of pulling off the upset.
Tolomia added 15 points, four rebounds and five assists for the Tamaraws.
The Tamaraws can clinch a twice-to-beat edge if the National University Bulldogs lose to the Ateneo Blue Eagles in Wednesday's other game at the Mall of Asia Arena.
FEU 87 - Romeo 33, Tolomia 15, Pogoy 9, Garcia 8, Hargrove 7, Cruz 4, Belo 4, Aguilon 3, Sentcheu 2, Delfinado 2, Inigo 0, Mendoza 0, Luz 0, Lee Yu 0, Jose 0, Dennison 0
UP 69 - Marata 23, Soyud 14, Lao 6, Gallarza 6, Suarez 5, Wong 4, Ligad 3, Gingerich 3, Harris 2, Ball 2, Desidero 1, Asilum 0, Amar 0
Quarter-scores: 20-8, 46-28, 67-49, 87-69