MANILA, Philippines - After grinding out two close victories, Far Eastern U found itself in an unlikely spot atop the leaderboard of the UAAP Season 75 men’s basketball tournament.
“Both were close games. We could have easily been 0-2. We were just lucky,” Tamaraws mentor Bert Flores, whose wards rallied to beat University of Santo Tomas (73-72) then outlasted erstwhile leader La Salle in a low-scoring game (48-46) to start the season, said in Filipino.
Today, the Tams gun for their third straight triumph against Adamson (0-1) at 4 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, hoping to somehow address the shortcomings that nearly led to their downfall in the first two outings.
“We still need to work on our rebounding; we were outrebounded by La Salle the last time (40-49). Arvie (Bringas) and (Russel) Escoto must step up in this department to help (Anthony) Hargrove, who was riddled with foul trouble in our second game,”said Flores, whose team stands half game ahead of defending champion Ateneo (2-1) and La Salle (2-1).
National University (1-1) hits the floor against University of the Philippines (0-1) at 2 p.m. intent on getting back on track in the tourney they were billed to be a contender in.
The Bulldogs kicked off their campaign with a masterful 90-55 trouncing of University of the East on opening day but got brought back down to earth by a numbing 65-89 beating at the hands of the Blue Eagles last Sunday.
Russel Escoto has been the missing link for FEU so far. He had a great season last year, but barely registered in the Fil Oil this summer, and has been buried in the rotation for Coach Bert Flores. Escoto is tall, long, athletic and even has an outside shot, but seems to be withering in the face of greater attention from opposing defenses. His good showings last year might be primarily due to the rpesence of veteran big man Aldrech Ramos. Ramos allowed Escoto to freelance a lot: blocking shots on the help-side, jamming passing lanes, launching long shots including the occasional threes, even getting a couple of highlight-worthy two-handed put-back slam dunks. Defenses were more wary of Ramos taking those short to midrange jumpers or crashing the offensive glass allowing Escoto plenty of room to maneuver. Now that Ramos is gone, Escoto is finding life very difficult trying to carve out his own space on the floor.
Good thing FEU has Arvie Bringas, who is no longer the stud athlete he was as a senior in San Sebastian high school, but who can still play very well in the low blocks. His added heft has served him in good stead as opposing big men cannot simply push him out of his sweet spots. His low post game has returned, and he is smartly using his thickness to draw fouls inside.
^ What makes Escoto's situation "worse" is that Hargrove has been playing Russel's Season 74 role well playing off the ball on offense scoring on put backs and broken plays while providing great help one-on-one (nobody noticed the great defensive job he did on Mariano) and help defense
FEU vs AdU (Jul 26)
Tamaraws squeeze past Falcons for top spot
by Mike Abasolo
Thursday, 26 July 2012 2
Terrence Romeo had 23 points,8 rebounds, 6 assists vs. Adamson
RR Garcia was struggling – from a high of 17-points, he made a modest 12 points in this game then Terrence Romeo came to the rescue with a cool 23-points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists including a strong 14-point 1st half performance to lift the Far Eastern University Tamaraws into another cardiac win plus the top spot of the standing.
The flamboyant guard Romeo delivered that one vital three-point play at crunch time to pilot the Tamaraws to a close 65-62 win over the Adamson University Falcons on the 2nd game of July 26 of UAAP Season 75 held at the Araneta Coliseum.
A crucial three-point play by Romeo put the Tamaraws to a 65-60 edge with 2:18 remaining in the game then Adamson managed to cut the deficit to only 62-65 after Eric Camson’s free throws. The Falcons bungled two possessions in the last 19 seconds as time expired.
“It’s a great feeling that we started with three wins and we’re hoping to continue the charge,” said Romeo, who also had eight rebounds, six assists and two steals. “Adamson played tremendously great in this game, so we adjusted very well.”
Mark Belo had 9 points with 6-points in the 3rd quarter.
After Camson scored two free throws for a 3-point deficit, the Falcons have a chance to change the game’s complexion when RR Garcia committed an inbounds turnover.
Camson muffed a potential game-tying triple in the dying seconds for FEU to escape with the win but despite their third win, Flores remain unsatisfied.
“In our first three wins, we could also be 0-3 because we are not yet consistent,” said Flores. “I’m just asking my players to keep their consistency all-throughout the game.”
FEU wasted a 33-22 lead when reserve Allen Etrone led Adamson’s spirited charge to take a 51-50 advantage early in the final period. The Falcons, who lost Etrone to an ankle injury late in the game had 13 points.
FEU led in turnover points, 25-19 and 2nd chance points, 10-4.
FEU Tamaraws: I was talking with one sportswriter on opening day, and he told me FEU wouldn’t even make the Final Four this season. We’re still about 12 games away from finding out if that’s going to happen, but right now the Tams are not only in the top 4, they’re at THE top of the heap. Both wins were down-to-the-wire, which could mean one or both of these things: 1) FEU is one helluva lucky team, and/or 2) FEU is one helluva clutch team. Right now, it seems the latter applies – LA Revilla’s absence this past Sunday notwithstanding of course. I expect they’ll go up 4-0 after taking on Adamson and UE this week.