By WAYLON P. GALVEZ
(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
2 p.m. – USTvs FEU (Men)
4 p.m. – UPvs Ateneo (Men)
Far Eastern University finally checked a losing skid on De La Salle University that spanned three years as the Tamaraws came through with a 68-61 victory against the Green Archers in the 81st UAAP men’s basketball tournament yesterday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Arvin Tolentino buried a booming three-pointer that ignited a 7-0 run by the Mendiola-based squad and gave them a 62-56 lead with less than two minutes left in the game.
Tolentino led the Tamaraws with 13 points and four rebounds, Kenneth Tuffin finished with 11 points and four boards, while Axel Iñigo contributed 10 points, six rebounds and three assists.
The victory of FEU was its first opposite La Salle since Nov. 18, 2015, or during a playoff encounter when the Archers eliminated the Tams in the race for a Final Four berth (71-68).
Overall, FEU went winless – 0 and 4 – over the past three seasons against DLSU during the time of former UAAP MVP Ben Mbala, who is now a professional player in China.
As for La Salle, which is now handled by coach Louie Gonzales after ‘mayhem’ mentor Aldin Ayo opted to join University of Santo Tomas, the loss was their first in a season opener since an 82-77 setback also against the Far Eastern U back in Season 77 (July 12, 2014).
For FEU mentor Olsen Racela, it’s all about having a good start to open their bid.
“The last time I was here (MOA Arena), the result was not good, it was when we were eliminated in the Final Four,” Racela, an assistant coach of mentor Tim Cone at Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the PBA, said in Filipino.
“It’s a good and different feeling that we got our first win of the season. It’s hard really playing La Salle. Last year, when we played them, we were beaten badly by them on the first game of the season.”
“But I like our improvement, and hopefully we can continue this throughout the season,” added Racela.
Forward Santi Santillan led La Salle with double-double 19 points and 10 rebounds with a pair of assists, while Aljun Melecio added 11 points and five rebounds for the Green Archers.
FEU 68 – Tolentino 13, Tuffin 11, Iñigo 10, Comboy 9, Stockton 9, Cani 7, Parker 5, Eboña 2, Escoto 2, Orizu 0.
DLSU 61 – Santillan 19, Melecio 11, Caracut 9, Baltazar 8, Montalbo 5, Serrano 3, Bates 2, Samuel 2, Manuel 1, Dyke 1, Go 0, Corteza 0, Capacio 0.
Quarters: 11-14, 25-26, 48-48, 68-61.