Belo buzzer-beater lifts FEU past Ateneo for finals return

Belo's tip-in with 0.4 seconds left in the game booked Far Eastern University the first ticket to the finals, 76-74. Dennis Jerome Acosta/Dugout Philippines
By Alexis Cerado

QUEZON CITY--Just when the Ateneo Blue Eagles were on their way in forcing a decider, Mac Belo took the spotlight and dealt Kiefer Ravena and his team their most heartbreaking defeat on Saturday.

Belo's tip-in before the game clock expired booked the Far Eastern University Tamaraws the first ticket to the finals, 76-74, in a nail-biting UAAP Final Four match against the Blue Eagles.

Belo finished with 15 points on top of nine rebounds for FEU, while RR Pogoy and Mike Tolomia registered 16 and 13 markers, respectively.

It is FEU's second-straight Finals' appearance after losing the championship last year to National University.

In the payoff period, Ravena brought the house down after a 5-0 run by his own in 2:20 to turn the tables in favor of Ateneo, 74-71.

With FEU missing consecutive threes in the ensuing play, Pogoy still gambled and fired up a crucial three with 1:07 remaining in regulation to tie the game, 74 apiece.

With 7 seconds left, unsung Ateneo hero Adrian Wong tried to go for the game-winner on a drive but missed.

Ateneo earlier forced the first deadlock of the game as Wong drilled in a bank shot, 61-all.  

"Ang hirap because Ravena and Wong were hitting their jumpers but I thought we defended them well," said FEU coach Nash Racela. "We're just happy to be in the Finals."

The third quarter started with Ravena and Tolomia exchanging baskets.

Fonzo Gotladera took charge and made four consecutive points for Ateneo, 38-41.

The momentum continued for the Eagles as Ravena muscled his way for back-to-baskets to make it a one-point game, 44-45.

Ravena scored off a pull up jumper in 5:31 of the second quarter which trimmed down the Tamaraws' lead to just five, 21-26.

Achi IƱigo responded with FEU's fourth trey, 29-21, until Von Pessumal finally connected from down town for the first time to keep it close, 26-31.

But the Tams were just too aggressive in the paint. Mac Belo completed a three-point play courtesy of a dish from Ron Dennison to build an eight-point gap, 34-26.

Earlier in the first, big man Prince Orizu bucketed a basket down low in the 4:32 mark to give FEU a seven-point advantage, 11-4.

Rookie Adrian Wong later answered back with a drive to cut the deficit to two, 12-14.

Tolomia took advantage of Ateneo's pillow-soft defense to ignite a 5-0 rally, highlighted by a cold-blooded three-pointer, to wrap up the period 19-12.

Newly-minted MVP and Blue Eagle Ravena ended his collegiate career with 25 points in a losing effort for Ateneo.

Box Scores:

FEU 76—Pogoy 16, Belo 15, Tolomia 13, Inigo 9, Dennison 6, Jose 5, Ru. Escoto 4, Orizu 4, Arong 4, Tamsi 0

Ateneo 74—Ravena 25, Wong 17, Pessumal 15, Gotladera 8, Ikeh 4, Ma. Nieto 2, Go 2, Capacio 1, Babilonia 0, Black 0. A. Tolentino 0, Pingoy 0, V. Tolentino 0

Quarterscores: 19-12, 38-32, 56-50, 76-74

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