MANILA, Philippines – Monbert Arong and Prince Orizu both came up with clutch baskets and defensive plays inside the final minute to help Far Eastern University escape with a 51-49 win over the University of the Philippines on Sunday, September 25, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Big man Orizu had two game-saving blocks to stop Jarrel Lim from converting a breakaway layup and a few seconds later prevented Paul Desiderio from making a mid-range pull-up jumper.
Orizu's big defensive plays paved the way for guard Monbert Arong to deliver the marginal free throw and the clutch turnaround fadeaway jumper that broke the 47-all deadlock and made it a 50-47 FEU advantage with 14.6 ticks left.
Javier Gomez de Liano banked in a shot to pull the Fighting Maroons to within 49-50 with 6.9 seconds remaining, but Jojo Trinidad split his charities and Dave Moralde's potential game-tying one-hander rolled off the rim as time expired.
"It was a struggle. We knew all along that this game would really be difficult," said FEU head coach Nash Racela.
Arong topscored for the Tamaraws with 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting to go with 4 rebounds, while Trinidad and Ken Holmqvist had 7 points each.
Orizu had just a point but pulled down 15 rebounds and registered 4 blocks.
"We just follow coach's system. We didn't give up until the end," Arong said. "The most important part was we communicated in the last quarter."
The Tamaraws made do without Ron Dennison down the stretch after he got ejected for a disqualifying foul with still 2:48 remaining in the fourth.
The video replay showed Dennison apparently jabbing Desiderio in the mid-section.
Dennison gets thrown out for his shot on Desiderio #UAAPSeason79 pic.twitter.com/2baJ2mjfFV — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) September 25, 2016
Dennison left the court just seconds after he made his only two points of the ballgame that put FEU on top, 47-44.
The defending champions moved up to a 3-2 record after the low-scoring, cold-shooting affair, which started with UP taking a 5-4 lead at the end of the first quarter, making it the lowest combined scoring output since Imperium handled stats in 2003.
FEU reclaimed the lead at halftime, 16-10, but ultimately shot a total of just 22% from the field (15-of-68). UP was not much better at 31% or 20-of-65.
"We're really struggling learning the ropes at this point but I think our struggle today was brought about by their coach really focusing on their defense," Racela said.
"I personally forgot about offense. But I'm happy because we limited them to less than 50 today. At least that gave us a chance."
Desiderio led the Maroons with 15 points and 4 rebounds while Moralde added 13 markers and 11 boards. The two combined for 7-of-28 field goal shooting.
The Maroons fell to a 1-4 record.
FEU (51): Arong 14, Trinidad 7, Holmqvist 7, Jose 6, Comboy 6, Nunag 4, Dennison 2, Bienes 2, Ebona 2, Orizu 1, Inigo 0, Bayquin 0, Tuffin 0, Denila 0
UP (49): Desiderio 15, Moralde 13, Manuel 8, Dario 6, Gomez de Liano 3, Espanola 2, Prado 2, Harris 0, Webb 0, Lim 0, Vito 0, Asilum 0, Jaboneta 0, Lao 0, Romero 0
Quarter scores: 4-5, 20-15, 38-30, 51-49.