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FEU rallies to take UAAP basketball crown against UST

Dennis Acosta
By Alex Cerado

PASAY--For Far Eastern University, the championship drought is over. 

The FEU Tamaraws played clutch down the stretch to outwit the UST Growling Tigers, 67-62, en route to the UAAP Season 78 men's basketball title at the jam-packed Mall of Asia Arena Wednesday.

UST was leading, 60-58, in the last 1:45 of the match unti RR Pogoy and Mike Tolomia came to the rescue for the Tams and unloaded a quick 5-0 run to shift the game in favor of the Tams, 63-60.

Tiger Ed Daquioag hit two free throws with 54 seconds left to cut the deficit, 62-63.

The Tigers had only a timeout left but failed to make a successful possession in the next play.

Russel Escoto wrapped up the match with two charities, 67-62, which gave FEU the elusive championship after 10 years.

Finals MVP Mac Belo sparkled for 23 points, eight rebounds and a block to star for FEU. Pogoy and Tolomia registered 14 and 13, respectively.

"Naramdaman ko ang pressure pero effort lang sa game. Hindi na namin inisip (ang last year)," Belo said.

UST thought it already had the title on their bag after Daquioag piloted an 11-0 blitz in the first six minutes of the payoff period, 57-51.

But Pogoy stepped up when it mattered most and came up with back-to-back baskets in 2:31 to trim down the deficit to one, 58-59.

It was UST's third bridesmaid finish in four seasons dating back Season 75 in 2012.

In the third canto, Mike Tolomia scored on a fastbreak layup followed by two charities from RR Pogoy which turned the tables for the Tams, leading them to a 51-41 cushion.

UST had no answer until Marvin Lee drained a booming triple after Kent Lao's two charities to further ignite a 16-0 run for the 57-51 lead.

It was a see-saw battle in the second period with FEU and UST fighting for the ball in both ends.

Raymar Jose's basket from Tolomia's assist in 9:40 handed Tamaraws the lead, 20-19.

Abdul responded with four consecutive points, capped by two free throws, en route to a four-digit cushion, 28-24.

The Tigers took control of the momentum early in the first quarter and blasted an 11-4 rally, courtesy of Abdul's third mid-range jumper of the game, 11-7.

Belo tried to ease the pain for FEU in the 3:27 mark, 11-15, but Marvin Lee was on his way for a fastbreak layup to give UST a six-point edge, 19-13.

With 1:02 remaining, Tolomia hit his signature stepback jumper to trail within a whisker, 18-19, at the end of the initial period.

Daquioag topscored for UST with 23 markers on his last playing year, while Abdul and Ferrer finished their collegiate careers with 12 and six points, respectively.

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