FINISHING second behind powerhouse La Salle is somehow a great accomplishment for defending champion Far Eastern University.
“I think so. To tell you honestly, some people from our camp said na hindi kami na magko-contend this year. That’s why I’m happy for the players because they were up to the challenge,” said Tamaraws coach Nash Racela.
“But it does not mean anything. The first round is now behind us. We are focusing on the next games,” he added.
FEU overcame Jjay Alejandro’s 31-point explosion to beat National University, 78-75, in a duel of the past two UAAP men’s basketball champions last night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Bulldogs rallied from 13 points down to tie the game at 71-71 on a lay-up by Alejandro entering the two-minute mark before Ron Dennison and Richard Escoto made big baskets to give the Tamaraws a 75-71 buffer end route in securing their fifth win in seven contests.
Earlier, Papi Sarr scored 16 points and grabbed 25 rebounds for the second straight game as Adamson overwhelmed University of Santo Tomas, 79-52, to finish the first round tied with NU and Ateneo from third and fifth places at 4-3.
“I think, this is good springboard for us coming into the second round,” said Falcons coach Franz Pumaren. “I guess even the school got surprised. I don’t think anybody expected us to finish above the .500 mark.”
With the tough second round looming, Pumaren, a five-time UAAP champion, is very much aware that Adamson, which has already exceeded its three-win output last season, is a marked team.
“Honestly, I’m quite happy with our showing but you know me very well, I don’t get easily be satisfied. I hope my players won’t be satisfied. Hopefully, we can sustain the run. Again, the downside now is the teams will treat us differently,” said Pumaren.
Monbert Arong came through with 20 points, Wendel Comboy had 14 points, four rebounds and four assists while Axel Iñigo played his best game in a FEU uniform with 12 points, three rebounds and three assists.
AdU (79) -- Sarr 16, Paranada 14, Ahanmisi 11, Manalang 10, Espeleta 9, Manganti 7, Ochea 6, Pasturan 4, Bernardo 2, Camacho 0, Mustre 0, Chua 0, Ng 0, Bernardo 0.
UST (52) -- Lao 13, Lee 10, Vigil 8, Sheriff 6, Basibas 4, Faundo 3, Afoakwah 2, Subido 2, Huang 2, Caunan 2, De Guzman 0, Macasaet 0, Tateishi 0.
Quarterscores: 22-19, 33-29, 59-37, 79-52.
FEU (78) -- Arong 20, Comboy 14, Iñigo 12, Escoto 10, Orizu 7, Trinidad 6, Dennison 5, Jose 4, Tuffin 0, Bayquin 0, Holmqvist 0, Ebona 0, Nunag 0.
NU (75) -- Alejandro 31, Aroga 14, Salem 9, Gallego 9, Salim 4, Diputado R 2, Aquino 2, Mosqueda 2, Abatayo 2, Morido 0, Diputado C 0, Sinclair 0, Rangel 0.
Quarterscores: 17-14, 39-32, 59-50, 78-75.