University of the Philippines survived Far Eastern University’s brave stand, winning 80-76 in overtime, to remain unscathed in the UAAP Season 86 Men’s Basketball Tournament at the SM Mall of Asia Arena, Wednesday.
After posting three double-digit wins, the Fighting Maroons had to grind it out to preserve their clean slate atop the standings at 4-0.
It was a sorry loss for the Tamaraws, who battled tooth and nail with the Season 84 champions before dropping their fourth straight game.
“As Coach Gold always says, as the season progresses every game is a chance for us to improve… Even though we had 21 turnovers, it was just one of those games where we were fortunate that FEU was only able to convert 13 of them,” said UP Assistant Coach Christian Luanzon.
Jorick Bautista drained a triple to knot the game with 30.3 seconds left in the fourth frame before Harold Alarcon missed his jumper on the other end with 11 ticks to go.
Ljay Gonzales went the other way and found Miguel Ona down low but he overpassed it to James Tempra at the top of the key that gave FEU a backcourt violation with 1.7 seconds, giving UP one last chance.
Off a timeout, Alarcon found Francis Lopez on the right wing for a turnaround jumper, which he made as time expired, but Malick Diouf was called for an offensive basket interference to send the game to overtime.
In extra period, the Tamaraws were able to get a 73-71 lead after Gonzales’ jumpshot but Lopez and Diouf linked up for six straight points for the 77-73 Fighting Maroons advantage with 1:42 left.
Bautista came up huge anew with 30.3 seconds remaining as he drained a three to pull FEU within one, 76-77.
Cj Cansino was sent to the line in the ensuing play but he missed the second freebie but luck was not on the side of the Tamaraws as Gonzales failed to secure the ball and lost it out of bounds. Felicilda iced the game with a layup in the final seven seconds.
“Sabi nga sa amin palagi ni Coach Gold, kumbaga dapat ready kami sa anumang sitwasyon mahirap o madali, dapat malagpasan nain yung mga challenges na yun,” said Felicilda of their escape as he notched 17 points, four rebounds, two assists, and a plus-14 in his 20 minutes and 34 seconds on the floor.
Cansino added 14 points, Diouf made 11 points and 10 rebounds, while Lopez got nine points and 11 rebounds.
UP will go for 5-0 on Saturday against struggling University of Santo Tomas.
Both teams played without key players as the Fighting Maroons were without Gerry Abadiano who is under concussion protocol, while the Tamaraws missed usual starter Cholo Anonuevo due to a fractured right hand.
Bautista’s career-game of 26 points on 6-of-6 shooting from deep went to waste as well as Gonzales’ 19 points, nine rebounds, four assists, and two steals.
FEU continues its search for its first win on Saturday against Ateneo de Manila University.
UP 80 – Felicilda 17, Cansino 14, Diouf 11, Lopez 9, Alarcon 8, Torres 6, Torculas 6, Cagulangan 5, Alter 4, Pablo 0, Gonzales 0, Briones 0, Belmonte 0.
FEU 76 – Bautista 26, Gonzales 19, Torres 9, Ona 8, Sleat 7, Torres 4, Alforque 3, Faty 0, Bagunu 0, Buenaventura 0, Competente 0, Montemayor 0.
Quarterscores: 17-13, 35-38, 54-56, 68-68, 80-76