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Tams squeak past Bulldogs, notch solo second

Monbert Arong scored 20 points to lead the defending champions to a win over NU.

By Ricky Manliguis

PASAY CITY—Reigning champions Far Eastern U dodged a fourth-quarter meltdown and Jjay Alejandro’s career game to nip National U, 78-75, for solo second place at the close of the first round of the UAAP Season LXXIX men’s basketball tournament at the MOA Arena Wednesday.

The Tamaraws surrendered a double-digit lead, but kept its composure down the stretch to finish the first round with a 5-2 win-loss slate, two games behind league-leaders De La Salle University (7-0).

After a 13-point deficit, NU mounted a comeback led by Alejandro, whose bucket tied the game at 71. But Ron Dennison and Richard Escoto refused to back down, teaming up in scoring four points for a 75-71 buffer with only 1:06 left in the game.

The Bulldogs had one last crack at the basket, but Rev Diputado’s potential-tying three-ball failed to go in at the horn.

Monbert Arong once again led the FEU offensive with 20 points and three assists. He got ample bench support, with Wendell Comboy, Escoto, and Axel Iñigo combining to produce 36 of its 41 bench points.

Comboy had 14 markers to go with four rebounds and the same number of assists, Iñigo chipped in 12, while Escoto cashed in 10.

NU’s loss spoiled the historic outing of Alejandro, as the team skipper issued a career-best 31 points on 12-of-18 from the field on top of nine rebounds. Alfred Aroga had a 14-point, 14-rebound performance.

It was the Bulldogs’ third loss in seven outings to forge a tie with Adamson and Ateneo for third place.

The scores:
FEU 78 – Arong 20, Comboy 14, Inigo 12, Escoto 10, Orizu 7, Trinidad 6, Dennison 5, Jose 4, Tuffin 0, Bayquin 0, Holmqvist 0, Ebona 0, Nunag 0

NU 75 – Alejandro 31, Aroga 14, Salem 9, Gallego 9, Salim 4, Diputado R 2, Aquino 2, Mosqueda 2, Abatayo 2, Morido 0, Diputado C 0, Sinclair 0, Rangel 0

Quarterscores: 17-14, 39-32, 59-50, 78-75

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