MANILA, Philippines – The Far Eastern University Tamaraws hacked out a 76-69 upset win over the La Salle Green Archers to advance to the next round of the Filoil Flying V Preseason Cup on Wednesday, June 28.
The Tamaraws – down 63-65 with two minutes to go after La Salle’s Aljun Melecio knocked in a triple – responded with Hubert Cani burying a trey of his own and went on to score 8 points in the final minute of the game and carry FEU to the semifinals.
Cani scored a team-high 22 points on an efficient 8-of-10 shooting clip. Interestingly, Cani did not contribute to any other statistical category.
Rounding out the double-digit scorers for the Tamaraws were Arvin Tolentino and Prince Orizu, who scored 10 points apiece with the latter also notching 6 rebounds.
Trailing for most of the match, the Archers opened the final frame with successive threes from Jollo Go to spark a 13-2 explosion and turn a 46-52 deficit into a 59-54 lead, their biggest of the game.
However, back-to-back baskets from Tolentino and Orizu restored order as the Tams managed to sustain their momentum all the way through to the final buzzer.
Andrei Caracut topscored for La Salle with 15 points to go with 8 rebounds and 5 assists, while Justine Baltazar and Aljun Melecio pitched in 14 points each.
FEU head coach Olsen Racela said he is taking the win in stride and keeping his focus on the UAAP season ahead.
“I told [the team] earlier that this is an opportunity for us to prepare ourselves for the season. Winning is just a bonus,” said Racela. “What I like now is that we have one more game to prepare us for the season.”
FEU (76) — Cani 22, Orizu 10, Tolentino 10, Comboy 6, Eboña 6, Escoto 6, Tuffin 6, Iñigo 3, Stockton 3, Gonzales 2, Parker 2, Jopia 0, Nunag 0, Ramirez 0.
LA SALLE (69) — Caracut 15, Baltazar 14, Melecio 14, Samuel 12, Dyke 6, Go 6, Manuel 2, Bates 0, Capacio 0, Corteza 0, Herrera 0, Lim 0, Manaytay 0.
Quarter scores: 15-11, 35-27, 52-46, 76-69.
– Franco Luna/Rappler.com