Garcia’s hot hand torches FEU past UP

by Adrian Taningco

Maroons center Alinko Mbah protects the leather against Bryan Cruz and Aldrech Ramos of the Tamaraws. MICHELLE ANGELICA SORIANO

MVP cashed in buckets at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Thursday, but it wasn’t business tycoon Manny Pangilinan.

Reigning UAAP most valuable player Ryan Roose Garcia fired 18 of his game-high 25 points in the fourth quarter to overcome a 16-point deficit and lead the Far Eastern University Tamaraws to a 59-53 squeaker against the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons.

The Maroons only scored two points in a horrible 2-of-14 shooting in the final period, where FEU blitzed a 24-2 run led by Garcia to stun the Maroons.

“I was very disappointed because that was the whole game that we gave away,” said UP coach Ricky Dandan. “We were not able to stop Garcia in the end.”

Forward Paolo Romero led the UP attack with 17 points. Mike Silungan and Mike Gamboa contributed 10 points each for the Maroons, who have now lost four straight games.

For the first three quarters, it looked like UP would sweep the faltering Tamaraws after defeating them on Aug. 4.

After a tight first quarter, the Maroons nudged ahead in the second, thanks to Romero’s unexpected offensive surge and rugged team rebounding.

UP extended its advantage after halftime and built its largest lead of 16 with a Gamboa three-pointer to begin the final frame. They would score only one basket after that.

Garcia got to work soon after FEU coach Bert Flores made the adjustment for the MVP to bring the ball up the court on offense.

“In the fourth quarter, coach gave me the go signal and it gave me confidence,” said Garcia, who reeled off 12 straight points at one stage in the fourth which pulled FEU ahead.

Despite the heartbreaking manner of the loss, Coach Dandan still took something away from the game.

“It’s all in the process of learning how to win again,” said Dandan.