by David Tristan Yumol
The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons suffered their second straight loss in the hands of Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws, 58-75, in the UAAP Season 78 men’s basketball tournament at the Araneta Coliseum, Sunday.
Up by just four points with less than five minutes to go in the final canto, the Tamaraws unleashed a 12-0 run to put the Maroons at bay for good.
Jett Manuel and Diego Dario were the only double-digit scorers for the Maroons, with 16 and 10 points, respectively. The Maroons had evened their win-loss record to two in four outings.
Raymar Jose, meanwhile, led the Morayta-based team in double-double with 11 points and 13 boards while flashy guard Mike Tolomia scored 11 points. FEU now holds a 3-1 win-loss card.
UP head coach Rensy Bajar admitted they lost their game plan, especially in the second half.
“We relied much on individual strength. Also, we can’t sustain our defense coming into the second half,” he said. “Our shot selection was also a problem.”
The Maroons led in the early part of the first canto, 6-3, behind Manuel. But the Tamaraws unleashed their offensive might midway there by tallying a 10-0 run, to close the quarter with a five-point lead, 8-13.
UP fought back at the end of the second quarter as Manuel, Paul Desiderio, and Mark Juruena combined for eight points to regain the lead going to the halftime, 29-28.
The Maroons maintained their aggressiveness in the early part of the third quarter with reinforcement Cheick Kone and Dario scoring two points each, 43-40, at the 3:50 mark.
FEU, however, started to adjust in the latter part with Roger Pogoy and Jose combining for 11 points to give them the lead after three quarters, 45-51.
The Tamaraws forced the Maroons to foul them seven times in the fourth quarter alone. FEU had 40 attempts in the free-throw line all game long, while UP had 12 trips.
UP also failed to convert their shots in the fourth quarter as FEU pressured them with tight defense. FEU also outrebounded their opponents, 52-35.
Manuel admitted lack of maturity of the team affected the outcome of the game.
“We’re still learning how to win. We lost composure in the last three minutes of the game. FEU took advantage of that,” he said.
Bajar also cited this factor in this tough loss against the Tamaraws.
“This is a young team compared to FEU, filled with veterans. But the players gave out all their best. But we fell short,” Bajar said. “There is a need to emphasize our plays down the stretch.”
The Maroons will try to bounce back from two consecutive loses as they tangle the defending champions National University Bulldogs on Saturday, 2 p.m., at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
FEU (75): Jose 11, Tolomia 11, Inigo 10, Pogoy 10, Orizu 8, Arong 7, Belo 5, Escoto 5, Tamsi 5, Escoto 2, Comboy 1, Dennison 0, Trinidad 0
UP (58): Manuel 16, Dario 10, Desiderio 9, Lim 8, Harris 3, Juruena 3, Longa 3, Asilum 2, Kone 2, Moralde 2, Amar 0, Gallarza 0, Jaboneta 0, Prado 0, Vito 0, Webb 0
Quarter scores: 13-8, 28-29, 51-45, 75-58