By Anton Onato
The Far Eastern University secured a playoff for the twice-to-beat-advantage after thrashing University of the Philippines, 87-69, in the UAAP Men’s Basketball Tournament, Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Tamaraws clinched the top spot and a showdown for the final four incentive against either National University or De La Salle University. Both teams may finish with a similar record with FEU, which concluded the playoffs with a 10-4 slate while UP fell to 0-13.
Terrence Romeo registered yet another career-high scoring, exploding for 33 points, nine rebounds, five assists and two steals to lead the way for the Tamaraws.
“Masaya ako na nasa Final Four na kami pero hindi ‘yun natatapos dun. Dapat hindi na kami muling mag-relax kasi masyado nang mahigpit ang laban,” Romeo said.
FEU took the upperhand from the get go and raced to a 20-8 lead after the opening period. Romeo went to work for 12 points inside the paint in the second canto alone to push the lead to 18 at half time, 46-28.
Romeo’s shooting spree continued as the Tamaraws kept a comfortable lead of as much as 22 points, 60-38 midway in the third frame.
But the Maroons refused to give up with Sam Marata nailing much needed baskets and sparking a 14-7 run to cut the deficit down to 11, 74-63, with five minutes left to play.
The Tams regrouped and leaned on Roger Pogoy’s and Romeo’s triples to gun another 13-6 spread and keep the lead for good.
Marata led UP with 23 points while center Raul Soyud added 14 points and 18 rebounds.
UP will face the University of the East on Saturday, September 14, at the Araneta Coliseum for their last assignment this season.
FEU 87- Romeo 33, Tolomia 15, Pogoy 9, Garcia 8, Hargrove 7, Cruz 4, Belo 4, Aguilon 3, Sentcheu 2, Delfinado 2
UP 69- Marata 23, Soyud 14, Lao 6, Gallarza 6, Suarez 5, Wong 4, Ligad 3, Gingerich 3, Harris 2, Ball 2, Desiderio 1
Quarter scores: 20-8, 46-28, 67-49, 87-69