By CARLO ANOLIN
RJ Abarrientos waxed hot in the second quarter and help power Far Eastern University to a 76-51 drubbing of University of Santo Tomas in the opener of the UAAP Season 84 men’s basketball tournament Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The cat-quick Abarrientos led the Tamaraws in his senior’s debut, scoring 14 of his 18 points in the second quarter that saw the Morayta-based squad build an imposing 47-18 halftime advantage.
The 5-foot-11 nephew of former “King Tamaraw” in Johnny Abarrientos also had five rebounds and two assists to highlight his game-long brilliance in the game that marked the return of the premier collegiate league after a two-year league hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic
Bryan Sajonia also shone for Tamaraws with 12 points, eight rebounds, and two steals, while Emman Ojuola contributed eight points, six rebounds, and three assists.
“We’re just happy to get our first win after two long years of waiting,” said FEU head coach Olsen Racela in a virtual post-match press conference.
“We’re happy that we got that win but we still have a lot of things to do lalo na maiksi lahat ng preparations ng team (We still have a lot of things to do especially we have limited preparation time).
“We’re happy but we’re not yet — ‘di kami kuntento (we’re not yet contented). We have to do a lot of things to prepare kaya pagbalik namin sa dorm trabaho na ulit,” added Racela.
Leading by as many as 17 in the second quarter, 30-13, FEU uncorked a 13-2 run powered by three triples from Abarrientos en route to a comfortable 21-point cushion, 43-15.
Joshua Fontanilla ended UST’s scoring drought with a three of his own but Santiago and Sajonia scored back-to-back baskets for FEU’s commanding 29-point lead.
The Tamaraws never looked back from thereon as others excitedly contributed to the team’s cause.
Fontanilla paced the Tigers with 19 points, 13 coming from the payoff period, to go with two rebounds, one assist, and one steal while Nicael Cabañero added 12 points, two rebounds, and two assists.
The Tamaraws will clash with defending champion Ateneo on Tuesday, March 29 at 1 p.m., while the Tigers will cap the quadruple-header against last season’s second-seeded team University of the Philippines at 7 p.m.
In the second game, National University survived Adamson’s comeback attempt, 71-69, thanks to Janjan Felicilda.
Felicilda scored 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting to go with four rebounds, four assists, and two steals.
FEU 76 ˗ Abarrientos 18, Sajonia 12, Ojuola 8, Gravera 6, Coquia 6, Li 5, Bienes 4, Anonuevo 4, Sleat 3, Alforque 2, Dulatre 2, Sandagon 2, Celzo 2, Torres 2, Tempra 0.
UST 51 ˗ Fontanilla 19, Cabanero 12, Concepcion 7, Gomez de Liano 3, Santos 3, Manalang 3, Ando 2, Manaytay 2, Garing 0, Pangilinan 0, Herrera 0, Canoy 0, Samudio 0.
Quarters: 22-9, 47-18, 60-35, 76-51.
NU 71 Felicilda 14, Minerva 8, Clemente 8, Figueroa 7, Torres 7 Galinato 6, Gaye 6, Mahinay 6, Malonzo 5, Ildefonso 2, Manansala 2, Joson 0, Yu 0, Enriquez 0, Tibayan 0.
ADAMSON 69 Hanapi 20, Lastimosa 18, Sabandal 11, Douanga 11, Zaldivar 3, Manzano 2, Yerro 2, Colonia 1, Magbuhos 1, Peromingan 0, Jaymalin 0, Barasi 0, Erolon 0.
Quarters: 19-13, 38-28, 54-48, 71-69.