MANILA, Philippines – The FEU Tamaraws hiked their unprecedented winning streak to four at the UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball tournament after a 57-53 escape against the severely undermanned La Salle Green Archers at the Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday, November 2.
Xyrus Torres topscored anew with 12 points, but only converted on a 3-of-14 clip from three on top of 3 rebounds and 2 steals as the Tamaraws rose to fourth place with a 4-5 record, right back in the thick of Final Four contention.
LJay Gonzales scattered 10 points, 5 boards, 4 assists, a steal, and a block, while big man Pat Tchuente scored all 5 of his points in the pivotal fourth quarter with 8 boards, 4 rejections, and 2 swipes to help send the Archers down to their third consecutive defeat and a 3-5 slate for seventh place.
La Salle entered the match massively handicapped after a Schonny Winston calf injury and a Michael Phillips stomach bug coincided with lead guard Evan Nelle’s one-game suspension.
Despite this, the Archers still managed to take a 45-44 lead right at the start of the fourth quarter off a Ben Phillips layup, and kept within striking distance deep into the clutch until Tchuente sank a clutch putback with 52.9 seconds left to create a 56-50 separation.
Although CJ Austria drilled a triple with 31.9 ticks left, La Salle blew their shot to tie the game after Player of the Week Bryan Sajonia stripped Austria near the baseline with less than 11 seconds left. Sajonia then split his charities off the duty foul to set the final score.
“I feel for coach Derick [Pumaren] and his boys. It’s hard to play when almost your entire starting lineup is out. We got lucky because of the situation La Salle is in,” said FEU head coach Olsen Racela in Filipino.
“A win is a win, it’s an ugly win for us but we need to win, and we’ll take it.”
In the first start of his UAAP seniors career, Gilas Pilipinas prospect Kevin Quiambao paced the sorry loss with 12 points on a paltry 3-of-14 shooting, plus 8 boards and 4 dimes, while Austria, Penny Estacio, and Bright Nwankwo scored 8 apiece.
FEU now aims to even out its 0-5 start with its fifth straight win against reeling NU on Saturday, November 5, 3 pm, while La Salle attempts to end its alarming skid with a possible elimination round sweep of eternal rival Ateneo at the blockbuster 6:30 pm main event.
FEU 57 – Torres 12, Gonales 10, Sajonia 9, Añonuevo 6, Sleat 6, Bautista 6, Tchuente 5, Bagunu 2, Sandagon 1, Alforque 0, Tempra 0, Celzo 0.
La Salle 53 – Quiambao 12, Nwankwo 8, Austria 8, Estacio 8, Buensalida 5, Nonoy 4, Abadam 3, Macalalag 2, B. Phillips 2, Manuel 1, Escandor 0.
Quarters: 16-13, 33-27, 44-43, 57-53.