By ADRIAN STEWART CO
The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons survived a tough challenge from Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws for an 80-76 overtime win in the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball tournament at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City yesterday.
Ernest Felicilda finished with 17 points, four rebounds and two assists in 20 minutes of play as the Fighting Maroons stayed on top with a 4-0 win-loss slate.
Crispin John Cansino added 14 points, Maodo Malick Diouf tallied double-double 11 points and 10 rebounds, while rookie Francis Lopez got nine points and 11 rebounds for UP.
“Sabi nga sa amin palagi ni Coach Gold [Monteverde], kumbaga dapat ready kami sa anumang sitwasyon. Mahirap o madali, dapat malagpasan namin ‘yung mga challenges na ‘yun,” Felicilda said.
It was a close game for both teams with the Fighting Maroons clinging to a 68-65 lead before Tamaraws’ Jorick Bautista drilled a game-tying three-pointer to send the game into overtime.
In the extra period, the Tamaraws were able to get a 73-71 lead after Ljay Gonzales’ jumpshot, but Lopez and Diouf linked up for six straight points for a 77-73 Fighting Maroons’ advantage.
Bautista pulled the Tamaraws to within 76-77 with a three-point conversion with 30.3 seconds remaining, but a free throw by Cansino and a layup by Felicilda secured the win for the Fighting Maroons.
“As the season progresses, every game is a chance for us to improve. It was just one of those games where we were fortunate to win even though we had 21 turnovers,” UP assistant coach Christian Luanzon said.
Bautista’s career-game of 26 points on 6-of-6 shooting from deep went to waste, as well as Gonzales’ 19 points, nine rebounds, four assists, and two steals as the Tamaraws dropped to 0-4.
UP 80 — Felicilda 17, Cansino 14, Diouf 11, Lopez 9, Alarcon 8, Torres 6, Torculas 6, Cagulangan 5, Alter 4, Pablo 0, Gonzales 0, Briones 0, Belmonte 0.
FEU 76 — Bautista 26, Gonzales 19, Torres 9, Ona 8, Sleat 7, Torres 4, Alforque 3, Faty 0, Bagunu 0, Buenaventura 0, Competente 0, Montemayor 0.
Quarterscores: 17-13, 35-38, 54-56, 68-68, 80-76./ASC, WDJ