by Raphael Rayco
The University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons lost steam in the final canto as they bowed down to the Far Eastern University Tamaraws, 57-68, in the second round of the 78th season of UAAP men’s basketball tournament at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Wednesday.
After a close third quarter, 40-43, the UP Maroons couldn’t find the right rhythm as the FEU Tamaraws unleashed a 20-6 scoring spree that created a 17-point gap, 46-63, enough to put the Maroons at bay for good.
UP got its first taste of the lead at the end of the first quarter, 19-17, via a buzzer beating putback by Paul Desiderio following a Diego Dario miss.
Desiderio also scored the first basket of the second canto to push the lead to four, but FEU answered with a 16-7 blast to grab hold of the lead, 28-33, going to halftime.
The Maroon-clad team once again stole the lead, 40-39, after veteran Jett Manuel scored back-to-back baskets with 4:10 left in the third.
The Tamaraws then replied with a 4-0 mini-run to take the lead, 40-43, to begin the payoff period.
Roger Pogoy, who tallied 17 points and four blocks, was the go-to guy for FEU, which now holds an 8-1 card to lead the team standings.
“Coach told us that nothing will be easy. Especially in the second round, every game becomes harder,” said Pogoy in Filipino.
On the other hand, Dario had his best scoring night of the season as he tallied 16 markers, four rebounds and two assists.
“For us, it’s another opportunity to learn. We’re a young team,” said the former Gilas U-17 point guard.
Maroons head coach Renzy Bajar stayed positive that they will achieve their goal to get to the final four with five games remaining in the season.
“We played a good game as a team. The energy was there, but the veterans of FEU just prevailed in the end,” said Bajar.
The Diliman-based squad will next face the University of the East Red Warriors on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Both teams hold 3-6 win-loss cards as UE fell to the De La Salle Green Archers earlier.
“We’re ready for [UE]. We know they’re going to try to come back at us,” said the head coach. “I know our players are fighters.”
FEU (68) – Pogoy 17, Belo 12, Tolomis 11, Tamsi 9, Arong 8, Escoto 5, Jose 4, Orizu 2, Inigo 0, Dennison 0, Trinidad 0, Comboy 0, Escoto 0, Ebona 0, Holmqvist 0
UP (57) – Dario 16, Manuel 11, Desiderio 8, Asilum 6, Kone 4, Amar 3, Juruena 3, Harris 2, Moralde 2, Gallarza 2, Longa 0, Lim 0, Jaboneta 0, Vito 0
QUARTER SCORES: FEU-UP: 17-19, 33-28, 43-40, 68-57