ANTIPOLO, Philippines – In a slugfest for the ages, the FEU Tamaraws breathed new life to their UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball campaign with a grind-out 47-44 upset over the NU Bulldogs to formally end the first round at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City on Sunday, October 23.
Bryan Sajonia dragged the Tamaraws to the finish line as the game’s lone double-digit scorer with 12 points on 4-of-15 shooting plus 5 rebounds, while star guard LJay Gonzales scored 9 with 5 boards, 3 assists, and 2 steals.
It was an ugly, scrappy affair from buzzer to buzzer as NU nursed a small 40-36 lead midway through the fourth quarter. FEU, however, dug deep to squeeze out a pivotal 9-0 swing, capped by a Sajonia layup at the 2:33 mark coming off a Gonzales steal.
Although the Bulldogs answered with two straight buckets to get within one, 44-45, with 1:25 left, they failed to capitalize further as Gonzales controlled the endgame with an isolation play and the crafty layup in the final 17.6 ticks of regulation.
NU still had one last shot to tie the game, but a scramble ensued as time expired to give FEU its second straight win after five consecutive losses to start the season.
With the win, the Tamaraws rose to seventh place with a 2-5 record, while the Bulldogs tripped down to third with a 5-2 slate behind Ateneo.
“Well, it was a defensive game. That’s what I said to the players before the game, that we needed a defensive mindset going into this game against NU,” said FEU head coach Olsen Racela.
“It was a low-scoring game today, but our defense gave us the chance, really. I’m just proud of the way they played.”
Big man Omar John paced the humiliating loss with 9 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 blocks, while John Lloyd Clemente scattered 8 points, 12 boards, 2 dimes, 2 steals, and a block.
FEU 47 – Sajonia 12, Gonzales 9, Bautista 9, Tchuente 6, Torres 6, Anonuevo 5, Alforque 0, Sleat 0, Sandagon 0, Tempra 0, Bagunu 0, Celzo 0.
NU 44 – John 9, Clemente 8, Figueroa 8, Baclaan 6, Manansala 5, Malonzo 4, Minerva 3, Enriquez 1, Yu 0, Mahinay 0, Galinato 0, Tibayan 0, Padrones 0.
Quarters: 12-16, 22-26, 31-33, 47-44.