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Tams clip Eagles to force KO match.
(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4 p.m. – FEU vs Ateneo
Raymar Jose’s refuse to lose attitude allowed the defending champion Far Eastern University Tamaraws to live and fight another day.
Jose grabbed 11 of his 23 rebounds in the fourth quarter while scoring 20 points as the Tamaraws rallied from 10 down to stun the Ateneo Blue Eagles, 62-61, last night and force a rubber match in the UAAP Final Four at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The 6-foot-4 southpaw kept FEU in the game by crashing the boards, while getting help from Monbert Arong, who overcame a 4-of-13 shooting with key baskets and assists, that enabled FEU to erase a 49-39 deficit with 8:16 remaining in the game.
Arong’s jumper with 1:25 left gave FEU the lead for good at 57-55, before Jose’s Sakuragi-like work on both ends sealed the comeback that set the stage for a do-or-die duel on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
At stake is a trip to the best-of-three finals against the La Salle Green Archers, who made it after barely beating the Adamson Falcons last Wednesday.
It was Jose’s best performance since he began donning the FEU uniform in 2013, and it came when he was on the brink of seeing his collegiate career end in heartbreaking fashion.
“Ayaw ko pang magbakasyon,” said Jose. “Focus lang talaga ako na ibigay ang lahat dahil last year ko na at gusto ko ding makabalik sa finals.”
Also staying for another game at FEU is coach Nash Racela, who praised his players for their courageous effort.
“I never wanted this game to be my last,” said Racela, set to leave the Tams after the UAAP season to coach TNT KaTropa in the PBA.
Aaron Black scored seven of his 11 points in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter that put Ateneo ahead 49-39.
The Blue Eagles saw their six-game winning streak end by going cold the rest of the way, while struggling to neutralize Jose. Thirdy Ravena also missed two straight triples during the Tamaraws rally.
Arong finished with 13 points while Nigerian center Prince Orizu was also instrumental for the Tams with nine points and 10 rebounds.
FEU 62 – Jose 20, Arong 13, Orizu 9, Comboy 8, Dennison 6, Iñigo 4, Tuffin 2, Escoto 0, Trinidad 0, Ebona 0, Holmqvist 0, Nunag 0, Bayquin 0, Denila 0.
ATENEO 61 – Black 11, Ravena 10, Asistio 9, Go 8, Verano 7, Ikeh 5, Nieto Mi. 4, Nieto Ma. 3, Wong 2, Porter 2, Tolentino 0.
Quarters: 10-10; 23-20; 35-42; 62-61.