Posted Feb 16th 2014
FEU sends Ateneo to first 0-2 start since 2003
By Josiah Albelda Posted Jul 3rd 2013
Welcome to unchartered territory.
Five-time defending champion Ateneo de Manila University fell to its second straight loss -- a 79-75 trimming from Far Eastern University in the 76th UAAP men's basketball tournament Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Blue Eagles started strong, but fell prey to a determined Tamaraws squad when it mattered most to start a tournament 0-2 for the first time in 10 years.
Ateneo, seeking a sixth straight championship, also suffered back-to-back losses for the first time since 2007.
Despite the win, FEU coach Nash Racela isn't about to proclaim his squad as a top contender yet.
"We always look at the big picture," Racela said after the game. "The small steps we take are very important. Even if it is an ugly win, we'll take it. We need to get all the wins we can get."
After trailing early in the match, the Tamaraws found their groove in the third period, with Mike Tolomia and RR Garcia combining to outscore the Eagles, 12-11.
And after erecting a 55-44 lead at the onset of the final period, the Morayta-based squad were poised to cruise to a second straight win.
Until Ateneo came charging back.
Von Pessumal sparked a searing comeback with a three-pointer before Ryan Buenafe attacked the defense like it was 2009 all over again as they retook the lead, 58-57.
Both squads traded baskets and FEU looked to have the win in the bag after Chris Newsome turned the ball over with 40.9 seconds remaining and the Tamaraws up by two.
However, FEU could not convert on their offensive set, Newsome was fouled in the ensuing play and the athletic American sank both freebies to tie it anew at 66-all with 10.7 seconds left on the clock.
Garcia's game-winning attempt failed to hit the bottom of the net, but the Tamaraws quickly recovered in overtime, zooming to a 7-1 start to take a 73-67 lead after a Terrence Romeo jumper.
Buenafe and guard Juami Tiongson made four straight free-throws to tie it at 73-all before Roger Pogoy broke the deadlock with a lay-in and Romeo sealed the win with two more charity shots.
"Ateneo is a very strong team," Racela added. "We were just fortunate to get this win."
Romeo bricked shots from everywhere but the free-throw line, finishing with 21 points on four-of-18 field goal shooting and 12-of-13 shooting from the charity stripe. He also hauled down nine rebounds and three steals.
Tolomia and Garcia scored 16 and 13 points, respectively, and the Tamaraws got seven rebounds apiece from Gryann Mendoza and Anthony Hargrove.
On the other hand, Buenafe came out with a brilliant output of 29 points and 15 rebounds but his efforts weren't enough to offset the absence of Kiefer Ravena, who missed the game due to a right ankle injury.
Newsome added 17 points and seven boards but guards Tiongson and Nico Elorde combined to shoot a lethargic four-of-20 and committed six turnovers.
FEU 79 – Romeo 21, Tolomia 16, Garcia 13, Pogoy 8, Hargrove 8, Cruz 5, Mendoza 4, Jose 2, Belo 2, Sentcheu 0.
Ateneo 75 – Buenafe 29, Newsome 17, Elorde 9, Tiongson 7, Pessumal 6, Erram 4, Capacio 3, Murphy 0, Golla 0, Babilonia 0, Asistio 0.
Quarters: 14-18, 31-33, 53-44, 66-66, 79-75.