by Ardelle Costuna
The University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons once again suffered a heart-breaking loss after the Far Eastern University Tamaraws frustrated their hopes of getting their first win, 70-73, in the first round of UAAP Men’s Basketball Tournament Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Anthony Hargrove of FEU blocked a shot with three minutes left at the ticker, which the UP side claimed as goaltending. Officials denied their call despite the video replays that seconded their appeals.
The Maroons were quick to move on, however, as they trimmed down a 15-point deficit capped by Alvin Padilla’s three-pointer, closing in at 69-71.
With five seconds remaining, team captain Mark Lopez sank one of two charities after a foul from FEU’s Mark Belo, 70-71.
That would be the Maroons’ last battle cry as Tamaraw guard Terrence Romeo sealed in two free throws to push for a three-point lead. Padilla tried a last attempt from behind the arc to no avail.
“Game plan namin was to stop Silungan,” said Coach Bert Flores of FEU. He added that his team had difficulty adjusting with other UP players going after his men. “Nag-iimprove ‘yung team na ‘yun.”
Romeo helped the Tamaraws regain composure after a 57-61 loss against the National University with his career-high 24 points including nine boards and eight assists. Hargrove followed with 10 points and nine rebounds.
Despite being scoreless at the fourth canto after suffering from cramps, Mike Silungan was able to pitch in a team-high 12 points. Rookie Raul Soyud came to his aid with 11 points and 11 boards.
“All their [playing] aspects improved,” UP head coach Ricky Dandan said. “Our record does not reflect on the improvements we have, but we are not discouraged.”
The Maroons will face the University of the East Red Warriors in a battle for the first win on Saturday, 4pm, at the Philsports Arena.