by rick olivares and brossi gonzales
But that hardly begins to tell the story as they eked out a hard-fought 84-80 win, pushed to the brink by the De La Salle Green Archers who squandered two opportunities to upend the front-running Tamaraws.
The Tamaraws led in their early goings of the first quarter before the Green Archers ran off a 10-0 run to seize a lead they would not relinquish until FEU’s Ryan Garcia picked off a midcourt inbound to scoot in for a lay-up. The Tamaraws had problems with La Salle’s full court pressure defense. But the full court defense eventually told on the Green Archers who began to miss badly in the endgame due to fatigue.
La Salle still had an opportunity to pull out a win but Joel Tolentino missed a lay up with 1.5 seconds left that saw the game go into overtime. The sophomore guard also missed a crucial free throw with 18.5 seconds left in the first overtime that would have given the Green Archers the lead but the score remained notched at 74-all to go into the first double overtime match of Season 73 of the UAAP.
In the second overtime, graduating player Paul Sanga and Cameroonian Pippo Noundou gave their side badly needed breathing room by scoring four points apiece. Noundou also pulled down two rebounds in the stretch including a crucial offensive board after a missed Garcia jumpshot that all but killed La Salle’s chances of bringing down an 83-78 lead.
Last Saturday, the Green Archers came back from a nine-point lead to beat Ateneo in the endgame. This time around, it was the Tamaraws who turned the tables on them.
FEU head coach Glenn Capacio drew a great performance from Brian Cruz, the transferee from Metro Manila College in Novaliches, who tallied 16 points, 4 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 1 steal as he waged a battle with DLSU’s Maui Villanueva who also had a monster game with 11 points, 13 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks.
Joshua Webb continued his resurgence after the strong game against the Blue Eagles as he scored a team-high 17 points. Three-point specialist Samuel Marata scored 16 points but had none in the extra periods.
FEU’s Garcia overcame a slow start to finish with 18 while Noundou added 14.