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FEU pulls huge rally to fend off UP

By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITYEarly into its UAAP game on Saturday, FEU showed signs of getting affected by a recent development in the PBA regarding its head coach, Nash Racela.

In the end, however, the Tamaraws showed why they are the defending champions.

FEU completed a huge comeback and downed UP, 63-60, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Three days after a report surfaced that Racela is on his way to TNT, the Tamaraws seemed to have been affected by it, starting out very slow and conceding a 20-point advantage to the Fighting Maroons, 28-8, at the end of the first quarter.

But they slowly came back and opened a nine-point lead in the fourth.

UP tried to avert the collapse, but a crucial turnover down the stretch spelled doom for the team and its Final Four chances.

Raymar Jose carried the fight for FEU with 20 points and 12 rebounds.

Jett Manuel's solid game of 16 points, eight rebounds, five assists, and three steals came to naught as UP dropped its second straight game after a breakthrough two-handed winning run that put the team to playoff consideration.

Box Scores:

FEU 63-Jose 20, Trinidad 9, Arong 8, Iñigo 7, Orizu 6, Ebona 5, Tuffin 4, Comboy 2, Holmqvist 2, Bayquin 0, Denila 0, Dennison 0, Escoto 0

UP 60-Manuel 16, Desiderio 13, Prado 10, Lim 5, Harris 4, Dario 3, Gomez De Liaño 3, Moralde 2, Vito 2, Webb 0, Asilum 0, Jaboneta 0, Romero 0

Quarterscores: 8-28, 27-36, 46-46, 63-60

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno