Belo triple sends FEU to UAAP Finals
MANILA, Philippines - Mac Belo will forever remain a hero in Far Eastern University sports lore.
The FEU star hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer that broke the hearts of the defending champion De La Salle Green Archers and sent the FEU Tamaraws to the finals of the UAAP Season 77 men's basketball tournament, 67-64, on Wednesday evening, October 1.
FEU will face the NU Bulldogs in the finals, which begin 3 pm on Saturday, October 4, at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Belo's finished with 23 points and 8 rebounds, while Tolomia put up 14 markers and 6 dimes. As a team, FEU shot 41% from the field and made 7 3-balls, but none more important than the one Belo hit to end DLSU's title reign at one year.
The now former defending champions were led by Jeron Teng, who scored 13 points and dished 6 assists. Jason Perkins had 12 markers and 12 boards, while Arnold Van Opstal put up 11 points
For a moment, it looked like DLSU would take the upper hand in the final period as Teng went right down to business.
After going scoreless in the second and third quarters, the third-year man scored four of his team's first six points in the period as the Green Archers took a 53-51 lead.
After a layup by Tolomia put FEU back ahead by two, Teng found an open Van Opstal who got the basket and the foul to put DLSU up 56-55 with 5:04 to go. Moments later, Julian Sargent hit his corner 3-ball, extending the lead to four.
However, Belo did not permit his team to go down easily as his midrange jumpers managed to tie the match at 59. After Perkins put his team ahead by two later on with a cut to the rim, Achie Inigo converted a floater that knotted the game at 61.
With 1:05 to go, Belo was found wide open at the top of the key and let it fly. The result was a 64-61 lead for Far Eastern University, which was tied by DLSU thanks to a Perkins free throw and wide open layup by Norbert Torres.
With 24.4 seconds to go, Tolomia was given the responsibility of handling the ball, and he decided to attack to his right. Drawing the defense of Sargent and Perkins, it was Belo who was left wide open in the corner.
Tolomia handed the pass to his teammate who hit the 3-ball just before the buzzer sounded, sending his team to the finals and sending the FEU crowd at the Big Dome into a ruckus.
FEU and NU's finals series will mark the first time since 1993 that the UAAP finals will not include either DLSU or the Ateneo Blue Eagles. NU defeated Ateneo, 65-63, Wednesday afternoon to gain passage to the best-of-three finals.
As a team, DLSU shot 40% from the field and managed to outrebound the shorter Tams only by 2, 44-42. It was the last game for graduating players Almond Vosotros, Yutien Andrada, and Norbert Torres.
The Tamaraws shot only 50% from the free throw line but the Green Archers were much worse, shooting only 39%. FEU also did a better job of distributing the ball, handing out 17 assists to DLSU's 15.
Roger Pogoy had 8 points and Anthony Hargrove had 6, respectively, for FEU, which beat DLSU four out of the five times the two squads faced each other in Season 77.
It was an exchange of baskets in the first period as both clubs opened the game on fire. But towards the end of the first quarter, the Tamaraws managed to get some defensive stops and took advantage on the other side of the floor, taking a 7-point lead to the second period.
Down 26-19, the Green Archers went on an 11-0 run thanks in large part to Teng, who made an exerted effort to find open teammates. The DLSU star's passing found open shots for the likes of rookies Prince Rivero and Sargent, who put La Salle ahead 30-26 after making a right-corner 3-ball.
Midway through the second quarter, 7 straight points by Tolomia helped his team regain momentum and take a four-point lead, 36-32. The Tamaraws were quicker to loose balls and did a better job of winning the 50-50 possessions, which in turn led them to have a 42-37 lead at the half.
FEU (67): Belo 23, Tolomia 14, Pogoy 8, Hargrove 6, Inigo 5, Cruz 3, Tamsi 3, Jose 3, Escoto 2, Dennison 0, Lee Yu 0, Ugsang 0, Escoto 0
DLSU (64): Teng 13, Perkins 12, Van Opstal 11, Sargent 8, Rivero 7, Torres, N. 7, Vosotros 6, Bolick 0, Montalbo 0, Torres, T. 0
Quarter Scores: 24-17, 42-37, 51-47, 67-64