UAAP: Bulldogs barge into the Final Four with win over Tams
(Updated 8:55pm) National University is returning to the Final Four, where they haven't been since 2001.
The host team Bulldogs unleashed an 11-2 run, with Bobby Ray Parks scoring the last five points, and overcame the Far Eastern University Tamaraws 84-81 in overtime, Sunday at the SM MOA Arena. The win allowed NU to advance to UAAP Season 75's Final Four, as the third seed.
“This is where we wanted to be from the very start of the season”, said NU coach Eric Altamirano. “This win is very significant for the NU community.”
NU had missed the Final Four in the past 11 years, dating back to Season 64, when they had to endure a playoff for fourth place against the UE Red Warriors, but they broke their dry spell this season, fittingly enough, as the hosts. They will now face the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers, with the latter equipped with a twice-to-beat advantage, as the second overall seed.
The FEU Tams on the other hand, who were in the UAAP Finals in the past two seasons, will have to beat the De La Salle University Green Archers on Wednesday, to claim the fourth seed, and set-up an encounter against the number one seed Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles.
“We never gave up. We just kept coming,” said Altamirano of his team's come-from-behind win.
Terrence Romeo and the Tams started strong at the beginning of the extra period, dropping six quick points to put them up 79-73, 2:54 left. But from then on, it was all about the Bulldogs, as they tore through the six-point deficit with an 11-2 run. Center Emmanuel Mbe chipped in three points, and then a triple by former CSB Blazer Mark De Guzman evened the game at 79-all, 1:05 left.
Then it was time for Parks to take over, hitting a go-ahead triple that stole the lead, 82-79, 31 seconds left. Former league MVP RR Garcia drove into the NU zone and drew a foul, which led to two charities to stop FEU's bleeding, 82-81, 19 seconds left. Forced to foul, the Tams sent Parks to the line with 19.1 seconds remaining, and he dutifully notched both charities to restore their three-point lead.
Looking to force a second overtime period, the Tams went on a mad scramble in an attempt to find the open man, ultimately swinging the ball to center Russel Escoto on the left wing. His three-pointer clanked off the ring and the Bulldogs grabbed the crucial rebound.
“Lahat naman ginawa ng player[s]. Andun yung effort at intensity. Kaso nagkaron ng lapses nung overtime”, said FEU coach Bert Flores.
A Kyle Neypes’ three-pointer gave NU a comfortable nine-point cushion, 71-62, with 6:42 left in regulation, but the Tams pressed the emergency button at the right time, switching to a zone defense. That resulted in an 11-2 run, with a lay-up by Cris Tolomia leveling the game at 73-all, 39 seconds left.
Both sides burnt their timeouts in an attempt to get off a shot, but excellent ball denial was played on the two ends of the court, as Bobby Ray Parks didn't touch it during NU's possession, and neither did Terrence Romeo and RR Garcia, as the Bulldogs made smart use of their fouls to give.
Coach Flores and his boys held the lead at halftime, 42-37, as the FEU frontcourt, com pried of Mac Belo, Gryann Mendoza, Roger Pogoy, and Clarence Foronda, all chipped in from the 32-32 mark onwards to put the Tams up at the intermission.
After the break, a dunk by Anthony Hargrove and two freebies by Pogoy gave Far Eastern a nine-point cushion, 46-37, but Parks responded by turning up the heat and triggering a 14-0 barrage. With the NU defense holding their opponents with a point for nearly four minutes, the Bulldogs found themselves up 51-46, 5:33 left in the third canto.
With Anthony Hargrove and the rest of the FEU bigs laying eggs all over the paint, the Tams turned to Romeo to bail them out, and the former Rookie of the Year did just that, scoring eight straight to tie things at 55-all, 2:15 left. Parks was still hot though, and he closed things out with five unanswered, to make it 60-55, with the fourth quarter still to come.
The Bulldogs dominated the offensive end, finding the open man (23 assists compared to FEU’s nine) and hitting their shots (46.6% compared to FEU’s 36.5%). That allowed NU to win, even if FEU dominated the glass to the tune of 50-42.
Only Parks and Mbe finished in double-figures for NU, as the two combined to score 52 out of their team's 84 points.
Parks had 27 on 10-of-18 shooting, plus nine rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block. Mbe on the other hand provided 25 markers, missing just two of his 14 attempts from the field, and made it a double-double with 13 boards.
Kyle Neypes and Gelo Alolino added seven points each, with Alolino quarterbacking his side to the tune of nine dimes.
The Tamaraws on the other hand were led by their guard corps. Romeo led FEU with 25 points, making 7-of-19 attempts. He also had eight boards, two assists, two steals and a block. RR Garcia chimed in 13 markers, but missed all four of his triple tries, plus nine rebounds. Cris Tolomia came off the bench for 10 points. He however, missed all five of his shots from downtown.
FEU and La Salle's win-or-go home game is set for Wednesday, at the SM MOA Arena. - AMD, GMA News
NU 84 – Parks 27, Mbe 25, Neypes 7, Alolino 7, Javillonar 6, De Guzman 5, Betayene 5, Singh 2, Villamor 0, Rono 0, Khobuntin 0
FEU 81 – Romeo 25, Garcia 13, Tolomia 10, Hargrove 7, Pogoy 6, Mendoza 5, Escoto 5, Belo 4, Foronda 3, M. Bringas 3, Cruz 0
Quarter scoring: 23-20, 37-42, 60-55, 73-73, 84-81
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