THERE are many reliable players that the defending champion Far Eastern University Tamaraws can depend on when the time comes.
Coach Nash Racela found that out after their 57-56 triumph over the National University Bulldogs even as they get ready to face the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers at 4 p.m. today in the 79th University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“For us, we can go to Monbert (Arong), Raymar (Jose), Jojo (Trinidad) and Prince (Orizu). That’s our mentality. We’re not just dependent on one person,” said Racela.
It was Arong who won it with a jumper from the perimeter from the right corner in the last 3.7 seconds. That sent the Tams to their sixth triumph in eight games and the first of the second round.
The Tams will seek their seventh victory and a firmer of grip of second spot.
The Growling Tigers are coming off a 68-75 loss to the National University Bulldogs. That setback put them at the bottom of the standings at 2-6.
Earlier, the Adamson Soaring Falcons will take on the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons at 2 p.m.
They share a three-way tie in third at 4-4 with the NU Bulldogs and the Ateneo Blue Eagles after their 75-91 setback to the La Salle Green Archers.
Soaring Falcons coach Franz Pumaren said there is a lot of room for improvement for the team, which showed its inexperience at endgame.
“We just have to play a little bit smarter. Down the stretch, we committed a lot of turnovers,” said Pumaren of their game with the Green Archers.
In that game, Papi Sarr was the main defender of La Salle big man Ben Mbala.
On the other hand UST team captain Louie Vigil believes the Tigers have no one to blame but themselves, and in their effort to rise from the bottom of the standings.
The Fighting Maroons are celebrating 56-52 victory over the Blue Eagles and snapped a 14-game losing skid. The Fighting Maroons are celebrating their win over Ateneo, which last came in July 28, 2009 when a team led by Woody Co took a 68-58 verdict.
Arong was a revelation for FEU. He whispered a prayer, unloaded a jumper from the perimeter from the right corner and rejoiced as it found its mark. That basket propelled the defending champion Tamaraws to a scrambling victory over the Bulldogs.
The 21-year-old Arong said he was inspired by a Bible verse which gave him the confidence to go for the game winner. His winning shot came off a pass from Jose following an inbound.
FEU had plenty of heroes against NU. Jose showed the way with 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Tams, who firmed up their hold of second spot behind the unbeaten La Salle Green Archers.
The Bulldogs, who dropped to fourth and share of a 4-4 slate with Ateneo, last enjoyed the upperhand following a split charity byJoshua Sinclair in the last 46.5 seconds.
NU, which was beaten for the second time in five games by FEU, kept possession following an interception play by Jess Diputado,
FEU big man Ken Holmqvist then intercepted Jay Alejandro’s pass to a teammate at the right side.
Alfred Aroga stepped up for NU. He averaged 11 points and 8.3 rebounds coming into the game where he exploded for 22 points and 13 rebounds. Eefensive plays from Russell Escoto, Holmqvist and Prince Orizu silenced Aroga in the final quarter.
(at the MOA Arena)
2 p.m. Adamson vs UP
4 p.m. UST vs FEU