As if FEU has not been impressive this season then they come out and play their best game of the tournament so far – a resounding 87-60 win that sent UST crashing down. In the first round when the two teams played their opener, you can actually say that if UST Tiger Jeric Fortuna did not commit the late turnover, his side would have been undefeated thus far. FEU dispelled any notions of that opening day win as they romped to a huge win where they led practically the whole way.
I have to admit that I didn’t think much of the Tamaraws after they lost Al Ramos, Ric Cawaling, Pippo Noundou, and Ping Exciminiano to graduation. Too much veteran help lost, I said.
In the first round, they won one stunning victory after another and usually in the last play of the game. You cannot say “chamba” anymore. They’ve earned all those wins with heady and steady play. And as much as their offensive load has been carried by their guards, the pick-up of Anthony Hargrove, Arvie Bringas, and Mark Belo has been huge. And to think that those three guys have started for head coach Bert Flores!
After the hot start, things started to taper off with back-to-back losses to National University and Ateneo. Then they run in a hot UST team that topped the first round.
Just as they did against Ateneo, FEU came out with guns blazing. This time, they did not surrender the lead as they repeatedly attacked the basket with different players chipping in on the offensive end. Hargrove and Roger Pogoy were fantastic in the end game. Just when it seemed that UST was primed for a run with some huge treys from Clark Bautista and Jeric Fortuna, the Tams answered with RR Garcia and Pogoy hitting from the outside. That sure doused fire on any rally.
And for the second consecutive game, I also thought that FEU came out with a solid game plan instead of the give-the-ball-to-the-guards-and-let-them-create system they’ve mostly run.
Their bigs weren’t only the recipient of passes but they too created their own plays. The frontcourt of Hargrove, Arvie Bringas, and Belo can only get better with time. Tough blow for the Tams when Belo went out with a knee injury. How bad I am not sure yet. Should he be out then that’s cause for concern. However, that underscores the need for Carl Cruz, Gryann Mendoza, and Russell Escoto to help out more.
You can say that UST played bad. Maybe so but that’s not exactly fair because FEU’s defensive pressure was tremendous. And it didn’t help that the returning Jeric Teng was off after missing two weeks because of an injury. Incredible win that threw a monkey wrench into the team standings. The weekend’s UAAP results will be very interesting. This is the time to create some separation.