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Far Eastern University got the timely boost it needed before the Final Four thanks to a fourth quarter comeback sparked by its backcourt.
Wendell Comboy and Axel Iñigo made the big shots late as the Tamaraws erased a nine-point deficit to beat the University of the East Red Warriors, 64-61, snapping a three-game losing skid in the UAAP basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Comboy scored five straight points to give FEU the lead before Iñigo came through with a booming triple to make it 63-59 with 25 seconds remaining.
Their onslaught came after FEU fell behind 53-44 entering the payoff period, thus ending the elimination round with a 9-5 record following heartbreaking defeats to Adamson, Ateneo and La Salle.
“We just wanted to win before we go to the playoffs. It was hard mentally for the players, but I guess gumaganda na yung adversity-conscious namin,” said FEU coach Nash Racela.
FEU has a slim chance of securing a playoff for the twice-to-beat advantage, if Adamson beats Ateneo by at least 31 points in their game being played at presstime.
Ateneo entered last night’s contest with a 9-4 record, needing a victory to secure the No. 2 seed and the twice-to-beat advantage, while Adamson will force a playoff with either Ateneo or FEU with a win.
Iñigo topscored for the Tamaraws with 16 points, while Comboy had 10 points, five rebounds and four assists.
The Tams were trailing 59-56 with less than three minutes left when Comboy made two free throws, knocked down a game-tying shot and split his two foul shots to put them ahead 60-59, 50.8 seconds left.
FEU kept the possession after Comboy missed his second charity, setting the stage for Iñigo to hit a right elbow trey to extend the lead to four.
Paul Varilla scored 13 points but UE ended the season tied for last place with former rival University of Santo Tomas at 3-11.
FEU 64 – Iñigo 16, Jose 11, Escoto 11, Comboy 10, Orizu 8, Holmqvist 4, Bayquin 3, Tuffin 1, Nunag 0, Trinidad 0, Arong 0, Dennison 0, Bienes 0.
UE 61 – Varilla 13, Mañalang 8, Palma 8, Acuno 8, Bartolome 7, Batiller 6, Olayon 5, Abanto 2, Pasaol 2, Armenion 2, Charcos 0, Gagate 0.
Quarters: 11-20; 34-34; 44-53; 64-61.