FAR Eastern University got the job done as it secured the remaining semifinals berth with a 71-54 dismantling of Adamson University in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Tamaraws needed a huge second half effort to finish their elimination round campaign with a 7-7 card that completed the semifinal cast without encountering any complications.
Earlier, Paul Desiderio shot 30 points in the first three quarters as University of the Philippines routed National University, 106-81, a win that went down the drain with FEU’s victory in the second game.
The Fighting Maroons played with a lot of discipline in their game, as Desiderio got the needed support from brothers Juan and Javi Gomez de Liaño, Jun Manzo and Republic of Mali’s Ibrahim Ouattara to end their season on a high note despite falling short of forcing a playoff for the last semis slot.
“I’m really proud on how they responded to the challenge,” said UP coach Bo Perasol.
Meanwhile, Ateneo tries to complete a 14-game sweep that will enable it to jump straight to the Finals, but will have to deal with defending champion La Salle at 4 p.m. today to cap the double-round eliminations at the Big Dome.
Tamaraws coach Olsen Racela doesn’t have preference - whether a step-ladder if the Blue Eagles go on to complete a perfect elims or a Final Four if the Green Archers deal their bitter rivals their first loss of the season.
“Kahit ano, dadaan pa rin kami sa butas ng karayom,” said Racela.
After blewing its chance of making it to the playoffs in the previous outing, FEU played with a sense of urgency this time.
“Natutuwa kami. They never gave up, they never wavered sa kanilang kagustuhan talaga na makapasok sa Final Four,” said Racela.
Arvin Tolentino led the Tamaraws’ charge with 14 points and five rebounds while Richard Escoto added 11 points and eight boards.
The Falcons, who drew 15 points from Robbie Manalang, settled for a 9-5 card in third place.
Adamson could face FEU anew if the playoffs go with the step-ladder format.
Juan Gomez de Liaño, a cinch to win the Rookie of the Year award, had 22 points and 13 rebounds, while his elder brother Javi also produced a double-double effort of 17 points and 10 boards for the Maroons.
Manzo contributed 14 points, five assists and three steals while UP slotman Ouattara had 12 points and 13 rebounds.
For Perasol, the future is bright for the Maroons, who are expected to have former NCAA star Bright Akhuetie in tow in next season.
UP’s six wins is the most since 2004, when it produced the same number of victories under then coach Lito Vergara.
“We are doing it the right way,” said Perasol.
The loss, the ninth in 14 games, eliminated the Bulldogs for the second straight season.
UP (106) – Desiderio 30, Gomez de Liaño Ju. 22, Gomez de Liaño Ja.17, Manzo 14, Ouattara 12, Webb 3, Lim 2, Harris 2, Ricafort 2, Romero 2, Prado 0, Jaboneta 0.
NU (81) – Gaye 25, Alejandro 16, Joson 7, Salem 7, Tibayan 7, Mosqueda 4, Bartlett 4, Diputado 3, Cauilan 3, Aquino 3, Morido 2, Yu 0, Abatayo 0, Lastimosa 0, Flores 0, Rangel 0.
Quarterscores: 34-21, 58-45, 84-60, 106-81
FEU (71) – Tolentino 14, Escoto 11, Orizu 10, Parker 9, Comboy 9, Iñigo 7, Cani 5, Trinidad 2, Eboña 2, Bayquin 2, Dennison 0, Tuffin 0.
AdU (54) – Manalang 15, Sarr 10, Camacho 7, Lojera 4, Ochea 4, Bernardo 4, Espeleta 3, Pingoy 3, Hill 2, Ahanmisi 2, Paranada 0, Manganti 0, Zaldivar 0.
Quarterscores: 19-17, 35-32, 52-44, 71-54