Cubao, Quezon City, Philippines
September 11, 2010
Round two of the UAAP Men's Seniors Basketball ended yesterday with a wild and wooly game to finally decide the Final Four standings. The FEU Tamaraws edged the Ateneo Blue Eagles, 74-72, and the Tams also took the number one spot in the standings.
Here's how the Final Four looks like:
1 FEU vs 4 DLSU
2 Ateneo vs 3 Adamson
FEU and Ateneo have a twice-to-beat advantage over DLSU and Adamson. FEU and Ateneo needs to beat their opponents only once to get to the Finals, while La Salle and Adamson needs to beat their opponents twice to get to the Finals.
Now that's how you end the regular season.
FEU and Ateneo fought tooth and nail until the last seconds, ending with a scramble for the ball after a missed layup by Ateneo point guard Emman Monfort. The Ateneo bench was emotional when there weren't any calls made to stop play, and some of the coaching staff were seen hounding the refs after the buzzer sounded. The FEU players were momentarily dazed by the result (Maybe expecting a call from the refs, too?), but eventually celebrated at midcourt.
FEU point guard and MVP candidate RR Garcia rode the bench most of the second half, saddled with foul trouble (He got his third foul during the second quarter, and his fourth foul during the third), but made a crucial three point shot with less than a minute to go, to help seal the win.
FEU Coach Glen Capacio chose to play Garcia during the crucial last minutes despite the point guard's erratic shooting and off night, saying, “Ilang beses na kaming sinave ni RR [Garcia]. It’s payback time naman. Ang instruction ko sa kanila in the final three minutes when we’re down by six, ay kunin natin ‘tong panalong ito para sa kaniya. Good thing, his teammates, delivered.” (Quote taken from the UAAP website)
FEU rookie point guard Terrence Romeo carried the load while Garcia was on the bench, producing 15 points (tied with teammate Aldrech Ramos) to lead all scorers.
The Eagles looked poised to win the game, leading by six with three minutes to go, the Araneta thunderous with cheers from a crowd that looked like it was 80% blue. I wondered how the players felt while being cheered or jeered by such a huge crowd, but I guess it rattled both teams when they missed shots and turned the ball over, and FEU went 1 for 4 from the free throw line.
The game was intense from the beginning, with Ateneo Team Captain Eric Salamat and FEU forward Ric Cawaling constantly jawing with each other (Cawaling also got in foul trouble during the game, getting four fouls).
Every time there's an FEU game, I take special notice of FEU's Reil Cervantes, because I feel some disgust for his showboating when he made good plays in past games. This game though, he seemed more focused (probably because they couldn't pull away from Ateneo?), and even though he had some misses on point blank shots, he and Aldrech Ramos get much respect for making it hard for Ateneo to control the shaded area, combining for 29 points against Salva and Chua's 24.
It was a well-played game, and I wouldn't mind watching this again, especially if they meet in the Finals. Will I be able to buy tickets? Somebody help me, because that may be near to impossible.
FEU-Ateneo Scoresheet (from the UAAP website):
FEU 74 – Romeo 15, Ramos 15, Cervantes 14, Sanga 11, Garcia 8, Bringas 6, Cawaling 4, Noundou 1, Mendoza 0, Exciminiano 0.
ADMU 72 – Buenafe 14, Salva 13, Salamat 12, Chua 11, Long 8, Monfort 6, Tiongson 5, Golla 2, Escueta 1, Dela Cruz 0, Austria 0.
Quarters: 16-17, 32-33, 54-50, 74-72
UE-UP Recap (First game)
Last year's finalist University of the East ended the season out of the Final Four, and was coasting in the game with leads up to 20 points, until the final few minutes when a UE lineup composed of mostly bench players allowed UP to come within six points.
UE Coach Lawrence Chongson was forced to bring back most of his starters for the final few plays lest they become the only team to get beaten by the University of the Philippines Maroons this season. Similar to the FEU-Ateneo game, the final few seconds of the UE-UP game had a non-call, but in this game it resulted in a breakaway two-handed flush by UE power forward Ken Acibar, electrifying the burgeoning crowd in Araneta.
The UE Red Warriors were in control for most of the game because of the UE guards, led by Paul Lee, James Martinez, and Raph Reyes. Lee actually looked liked a point guard in this game, dishing out breath-taking alley oop (featuring Reyes in one play) and no-look passes, slicing the lackadaisical UP Maroons defense. In a lot of the games I've seen this season, Lee handled the ball too much and took bad shots, stalling the UE offense many times. Lee looks like he's ready for the pros though, and can be an asset for a PBA team, especially if he becomes better with the passing game.
La Salle and Adamson are the only teams to beat FEU this season. The DLSU Green Archers and the Adamson Falcons played against each other for positioning in the Final Four last September 9, 2010 in the Araneta, with the Falcons winning against the Archers, 69-64, to get third place.
This season marks the most times I've seen live UAAP Games, as I managed to wrangle tickets from brother Bert, who is the fountain, the source. Thanks again, bro!
The pic below is from last year's UAAP finals between Ateneo and UE, with UE Coach Chongson swimming in a sea of blue. I predict that FEU and Ateneo will meet in the Finals, but I'm secretly wishing that dark horse contender Adamson goes all the way. To my alma mater UST Growling Tigers: Better luck next season, develop the big men, keep those turnovers low and to Coach Pido Jarencio—please make better plays!