Baby Tams claim top spot in jrs. caging
Anthony Divinagracia, Monday, September 12, 2011.
Manila, Philippines – Far Eastern University (FEU)-FERN made its Final Four return extra special by clinching the no.1 seed and the all-important twice-to-beat advantage going into the playoff stage of the 74th UAAP juniors basketball tournament.
The Baby Tamaraws plastered third-running National University (NU), 71-60, on Saturday at the Blue Eagle Gym to deny the Bullpups of a complication-filled triple-tie for first place and secure the top spot at 12-2.
Down 9-12 after the opening quarter, FEU altered the complexion of the game behind Jovanie Luz, who scored eight of his top-scoring 15 points in the second period to wrest the lead for the Baby Tamaraws, 29-21, at the half.
Leading MVP contender Jerie Pingoy and Al-Jonier Hassan backstopped Luz with 14 markers each. The spitfirish Pingoy also registered a career-high eight steals while issuing seven of the Baby Tamaraws’ 17 assists to reassert their dominance over the Bullpups, whom they beat (84-79) in the first round.
With Pingoy directing traffic, the Baby Tamaraws build a commanding 48-36 margin despite the stellar play of Ralph Tansingco, Ralph Atangan, and Norjohn Tendenilla, who combined for 16 of NU’s 19-point output in the third canto.
FEU’s 52-40 buffer entering the final quarter proved enough cushion for the Baby Tamaraws as Al-Jonier Hassan, Pingoy, and Luz joined hands to finish the Bullpups despite a remarkable 11-point swing from Atangan.
Atangan topped the charts with 19 points and 11 rebounds while Tansingco registered the game’s second double-double by tallying 12 markers and 14 boards for NU, which faces the twice-to-beat De La Salle Zobel in the Final Four.
The second-seeded Junior Archers closed the eliminations with an 11-3 record after dropping a 56-67 contest to defending champion Ateneo de Manila University.
Tomas Ramos led the fourth-ranked Eaglets with 16 points while Kris Porter added 15 plus 12 rebounds to anchor Ateneo’s payback against the Junior Archers, who slapped them a 78-75 defeat back in their first meeting.
Ateneo (9-5) put on the defensive cuffs on La Salle’s gunners right from the opening tip with only Axel Torres finishing in double-figures (12 points) for the offensively gifted Junior Archers.
Gabby Reyes, La Salle’s other prolific scorer, was limited to a measly 4 points on a woeful 1-of-12 shooting in 27 minutes of action.
Kristiane Velhagen backed Torres with nine points and 12 rebounds while Joseph Tempongko and Renzo Subido added seven markers apiece for La Salle, which only made 22 of their 79 attempts (27.8 percent) in their entire game.
In other games, Adamson University (7-7) finalized its hold of fifth place by downing University of Santo Tomas (5-9), 57-49.
University of the Philippines Integrated School meanwhile tied University of the East for last place at 1-13 after nipping the Pages in overtime, 73-71.
The Final Four matches will begin on Friday (Sept. 16) with the top-seeded Baby Tamaraws and the Junior Archers staking their twice-to-beat edge against the no. 4 Eaglets and the no.3 Bullpups, respectively.
FEU-FERN 71 - Luz 15, Pingoy 14, Hassan A 15, Aguilon 10, Delfinado 6, You 4, Estrada 4, Domingo R 4, Hassan J 0, Domingo J 0, Palacio 0, Estacio 0.
NU 60 - Atangan 19, Tansingco 12, Tendenilla 10, Rivero 7, Napa 6, Baliton 3, Busa 3, Villagracia 0, Subrabas 0, Lapiz 0, Battad 0.