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Tamaraws take Final Four "opener" against Green Archers

Achie Iñigo looked to get past the returning Thomas Torres. Ivan Saldajeno
By Ivan Saldajeno

The FEU Tamaraws lost a 13-point cushion but delivered the killer blow in the endgame to score a 65-60 win against the De La Salle Green Archers in the playoff for the second twice-to-beat advantage come the Final Four round of the UAAP men's basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

After a close first period, the Tamaraws looked to pull away in the second as they opened a 27-14 lead after a 12-2 rally capped by seven points in succession from Mac Belo.

But the Green Archers slowly crawled back and, after an Almond Vosotros three-pointer, came to within three, 31-34, early in the third quarter.

Nine straight FEU points increased the lead to 12 again, 43-31.

But four La Salle triples, three coming from Vosotros including a completed four-point play, highlighted a late 19-7 third quarter run to tie the match at 50 apiece.

But Mike Tolomia ended the third frame with a highly-contested trey to give the Tams a 53-50 lead entering the fourth.

After an exchange of baskets, a 6-0 Archers run put them in the lead, 60-58, with 3:31 left in the game.

But Tolomia scores a difficult layup at the other end to tie the game anew, 60-all.

Tolomia then gave FEU the lead back after making a free throw in the next Tamaraws offensive after Jeron Teng missed a shot in the earlier play.

The Green Archers again did not capitalize in their next possession after Arnold Van Opstal lost the ball.

But Tolomia turned it over due to an errant pass afterward, giving the Archers another chance.

The late La Salle meltdown, however, continued when Jason Perkins missed and Teng was slapped with an offensive foul after grabbing the offensive rebound.

Achie Iñigo missed a jumper in the ensuing play, and Teng took the loose ball and found Norbert Torres.

Torres, however, missed his shot, and Carl Cruz got free on the other end for a layup plus a foul.

Cruz, however, missed the bonus free throw, keeping La Salle in the game.

But Vosotros missed a potential game-tying triple and lost the ball after securing the offensive rebound to Tolomia, who was fouled immediately by Teng.

Teng's foul, however, was declared an unsportsmanlike foul, and the Tamaraws retained possession after Tolomia's free throw put the lead back to four, 64-60, with seven seconds left.

Cruz split his own free throws for the final tally as Vosotros missed a hurried three-pointer at the other end.

Tolomia, making up for his failed heroics last week against Ateneo, scored 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Tamaraws, who now lead the Green Archers in a virtual best-of-three Final Four affair, 1-0.

Belo added a double-double of 15 points and ten rebounds along with a block and a steal.

Jason Perkins also had a double-double of 15 points and 13 rebounds together with three assists and a block to lead the Green Archers, who are now 0-3 against the Tamaraws this season.

Teng, fresh from getting confined for dengue fever, had a dismal 2-of-11 field goal clip and only made eight points, although he managed to grab eight boards and made a single block.

Teng and Van Opstal, who were at the same venue the night before for a fashion show, committed 12 of the Archers' 20 turnovers.

Thomas Torres, who got sidelined for most of the season due to a foot injury, returned to action for La Salle.

Thomas, however, went scoreless in a two-minute stint.

Box Scores:

FEU 65-Tolomia 19, Belo 15, Cruz 7, Pogoy 7, Jose 6, Iñigo 4, Hargrove 4, Dennison 3, Tamsi 0, Lee Yu 0, Ri. Escoto 0

La Salle 61-Perkins 15, Vosotros 13, Teng 8, N. Torres 8, Van Opstal 7, Montalbo 6, Sargent 3, T. Torres 0, Rivero 0, Salem 0

Quarterscores: 15-12, 32-24, 53-50, 65-60
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