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Never-say-die FEU fights back to beat UE in 2 OT

By Josiah Albelda Posted Aug 25th 2013

Terrence Romeo scored a career-high 30 in the seniors division as he powered FEU to a double-overtime victory over UE.

Coming off after a bruising battle, coach Nash Racela only felt two things: joy and relief.

Joy because his wards never ever gave up, not even after staring at a seven-point deficit with 23 seconds left.

Relief because that grueling game -- one played through 50 minutes of basketball time and probably double that in total action -- is finally over.

And when everything was said and done, it was Racela's Far Eastern University who emerged on top after beating University of the East, 98-94, in the 76th UAAP men's basketball tournament Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Terrence Romeo broke out of a slump and recorded a career-high 30 points -- including five in the second overtime -- while also grabbing seven rebounds, four assists and three steals for the Tamaraws.

Gryann Mendoza played the hero's role, too, and submitted the best game of his life with 15 points, 13 rebounds and four three-pointers -- two of them drained in the most crucial of moments.

Mike Tolomia wouldn't be left behind, forcing second overtime with that dagger of a three and wounding up with 13 markers, seven boards and six assists.

"I told them nothing is impossible," said Racela. "At least tonight, they believed in me. I'm so proud of them. I think this is the first time I'll say that I'm so, so proud of them."

But it was a win that almost never was for FEU, who led by 17 early in the fourth period only to collapse as Roi Sumang and Ralf Olivares stepped on the gas pedal to force overtime.

A triple by Archie Inigo handed the Tamaraws a 65-48 advantage with almost eight minutes left in the game and FEU still looked headed for an easy victory after two free-throws by Carl Cruz shoved them ahead, 69-58, with 4:04 remaining.

Then Sumang and Olivares went to work.

Sumang, the spitfire guard, made two free-throws and drilled a three-pointer to make it 69-63 with 2:51 left on the clock.

Romeo then split his charities to bring it back to seven for the Tamaraws, but Olivares and Sumang conspired for a regulation-closing 7-0 run that turned what has been a rout into a nail-biter.

The Warriors continued to pound FEU in overtime and this time looked headed for the win after an Olivares basket put them up, 84-77, with just 23 seconds remaining.

The Tamaraws, however, would not be denied.

Romeo scored an easy basket before Mendoza converted a triple off a botched inbounds play to make it 84-82 in a span of nine seconds.

Sumang was fouled in the ensuing play but made just one of two foul shots.

Down three with 11 seconds left, Tolomia pulled up for a three with just three ticks remaining to force a second extra period just when FEU was given up for dead already.

Romeo then starred in an 8-4 run that gave the Tamaraws a 95-91 lead midway through the second overtime.

With players from both teams cramping up, it was FEU who proved to be steadier, with Anthony Hargrove sealing the deal with three more points.

"It's no secret that we wanted to win," Racela added. "We just wanted to get a win. That was very tough to get rid of the past."

Sumang delivered 25 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals, Olivares had 21 markers and Charles Mammie hauled down 17 points, 27 rebounds and two blocks for UE.

The scores:

FEU (98) - Romeo 30, Mendoza 15, Tolomia 13, Hargrove 12, Cruz 9, Inigo 6, Belo 6, Pogoy 5, Sentcheu 2, Lee Yu 0, Delfinado 0, Aguilon 0

UE (94) - Sumang 25, Olivares 21, Mammie 17, Noble 11, Santos 6, Jumao-as 5, Casajeros 4, Galanza 3, Javier 2, Olayon 0, Sumido 0, Hernandez 0, Guion 0, Flores 0, Alberto 0

Quarters: 26-13, 42-31, 59-46, 70-70, 85-85, 98-94