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Arong jumper lifts Tams

Games Wednesday
(Mall of Asia Arena)
2 p.m. – Adamson vs UP
4 p.m. – UST vs FEU

FEU rallies from 11 points against NU.

The Far Eastern University Tamaraws may have found their go-to-guy in Monbert Arong.

Arong was the saving grace for the defending champion Tamaraws yesterday after hitting a corner jumper that beat the National University Bulldogs, 57-56, in the UAAP basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.

His game-winner came with 3.7 seconds remaining, breaking free from NU defender Alfred Aroga after faking a shot from the right corner, completing FEU’s comeback from an 11-point deficit in the third.

The 24-year-old former Southwestern University standout, a bit player in FEU’s title run last season, finished with 13 points as the Tamaraws defeated the Bulldogs for the second time in four days and hiked their winning run to five games.

FEU improved to 6-2 to tighten its grip on second place despite enduring a season searching for a permanent take-charge guy.

Arong, who had 20 points in FEU’s 78-75 victory in their first meeting last Wednesday, was reflective afterwards, even referring to a biblical passage as inspiration to deliver the winning play coach Nash Racela designed for him.

“Wala akong inisip kundi yung bible verse na I can do all things in Christ,” said Arong.

Alfred Aroga finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds but the Bulldogs dropped to a tie for fourth at presstime with the idle Ateneo Blue Eagles at 4-4.

J-Jay Alejandro, who fired 31 in the last match, was held to just seven points and committed a costly turnover that set the stage for Arong’s winner.

“NU made good adjustments for today’s game. They made it really hard for us to execute,” Racela said. “Though we allowed them to score less than 60 points pero nahirapan kami depensahan sila.”

“We really focused on Alejandro and I think we took away points from him, but si Aroga naman yung naging problem,” he added.

Aroga scored 12 in the third that put NU ahead 44-33 at one point in that said period. But FEU took the lead at 55-52 when Arong drained a triple with 6:18 left in the fourth.

The Bulldogs tied the score at 55-all, before Joshua Sinclair split his free throws off an Arong foul to gain a 56-55 edge, 46.9 remaining.

FEU 57– Jose 14, Arong 13, Comboy 7, Trinidad 6, Escoto 5, Dennison 4, Holmqvist 3, Denila 2, Ebona 2, Orizu 1, Tuffin 0, Bayquin 0, Roxas 0.

NU 56 – Aroga 22, Diputado R. 8, Alejandro 7, Gallego 6, Sinclair 5, Morido 2, Pate 2, Go 2, Salim 1, Rangel 1, Salem 0, Diputado C. 0, Mosqueda 0, Yu 0.

Quarters: 19-19; 30-32; 45-50; 57-56.