FEU Tamaraws tame ADMU Blue Eagles, force do-or-die


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MANILA, Philippines - Fourth-seeded Far Eastern University (FEU) surprised number 1 team Ateneo De Manila University (ADMU) and sent the Blue Eagles in a do-or-die game in the UAAP Season 80 Final Four showdown on Sunday, November 19 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Ex-Eagle Arvin Tolentino contributed significant numbers to beat his former school.
Ex-Eagle Arvin Tolentino contributed significant numbers to beat his former school. Photo Credit: ABS-CBN Sports

It’s been a day since De La Salle University occupied the first finals spot after eliminating the Adamson University. Today, the Ateneo De Manila University will attempt to secure the last finals seat but the Far Eastern University hopes for an upset and extend the series to a grudge match.

The Blue Eagles welcomed the Tamaraws with a back-to-back three pointers courtesy of Vince Tolentino and Thirdy Ravena. But FEU wasn’t impressed at all. The Tamaraws fired back spearheaded by ex-Ateneo Forward Arvin Tolentino and even led the Eagles by 5.

Shooting guard Alex Inigo found his comfort zone from the outside as he ended the 1st quarter with a smile on his face and 6-point 21-15 FEU lead.

FEU had escalated its margin to 9 but Matt Nieto came back strong as the Eagles started the 2nd period and trimmed the lead down to just 3. Coach Nash Racela alarmed by Ateneo’s run, called for a mandatory timeout to talk things over.

After Racela’s timeout, Nieto again launched a trey for the tie, 24-all with 7 more minutes remaining in the half.

Tamaraws Ron Dennison and Richard Escoto answered Matt Nieto’s outside sniping and brought their lead back again to 6.

Thirdy Ravena checked back in and made a couple of baskets to cut the number to just a single shot, 38-35 as the 1st half clock expired.

Eagle Anton Asistio immediately released a long shot right after the ball was inbounded at the beginning of the 3rd quarter. Ron Dennison however, countered with 2 triples followed by an up and under hoop to escalate their advantage to 10.

Under 2 minutes of the 3rd period, FEU maintained its double-digit lead by tightening its defense on Ateneo and savored its rival’s missed shots from all angles of the court. At the end of the penultimate quarter, the Tamaraws once again led the Eagles 59-48.

Arvin Tolentino kept his team up as he initiated the run and gun plays. The 6’5” forward did the dirty jobs defensively and converted them to points off turnovers. Ateneo on the other hand, started to lose the fight little by little as turnovers and blank shots continued to pile up.

Desperate to find an antidote against FEU’s onslaught, Coach Tab Baldwin tried to field in 4 guards and an undersized center to counter Tamaraw’s own run plays. But it just backfired as they lacked height in grabbing the boards and gave FEU the advantage to bucket second-chance points.

As the coliseum barker announced the 2-minute warning, FEU’s lead had gone up to 17 and as the final horn was blown, the Tamaraws scored a win, 80-67 against the top-seeded Blue Eagles and forced a win-or-go-home game number 2 come Wednesday, November 23 where the winner will face the defending champions De La Salle University Green Archers.

— Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

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