For the second straight game, the FEU Tamaraws took down a giant.
Using lockdown defense and precise offense, the Tamaraws outlasted the Ateneo Blue Eagles, 63-60, Wednesday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena. And the win came in just three days after besting the league-leading Adamson Falcons. FEU now moves up to second place in the standings, boasting a 5-2 record.
"Even I don't know how we did it," FEU coach Olsen Racela said about their huge back-to-back wins over title-contenders. "If you noticed, we had the toughest schedule. We still have a game on Sunday. So we played five games in two weeks."
"We played Ateneo without our top scorer. If you ask me I don't know."
Without Arvin Tolentino who was serving his one-game suspension, FEU found offense from the entire team. Hubert Cani had an all-around game of 12 points, five rebounds, and six assists, but five other Tamaraws scored at least eight points. As a team, they shot 45 percent from the field and went 10-for-22 from beyond the arc.
It was certainly a collective effort on offense for the Tamaraws, but their victory stemmed from the other end of the court.
Ateneo's usually smooth and decisive ball movement was impeded by the FEU defense. The Blue Eagles shot below 30 percent and they were abandoned by their 3-point shot, going 5-for-31 from downtown. They particularly had a forgetful third period where they only scored seven points while giving up 17 to the opposing team.
The defending champions, however, clawed their way back into the game in the fourth and deciding quarter. Contributions from Raffy Verano, Angelou Kouame, and Mike Nieto gave Ateneo a fighting chance. Other players needed to step up for the men in blue as they were missing Matt Nieto to injury and Thirdy Ravena, who was slapped with an unsportsmanlike foul with three minutes left in the contest.
A basket by Mike Nieto made it into a three-point game 61-58 with a minute remaining. The momentum was shifting to Ateneo but a breakaway layup by Richard Escoto gave FEU a 63-58 cushion. Kouame was able to answer on the other however that proved to be the last basket for Ateneo. Adrian Wong missed on his 3-point shot at the buzzer, failing to send the game into overtime.
Koaume had 16 points and 12 rebounds in Ateneo's second loss of the season.
FEU 63 - Cani 12, Parker 9, Inigo 9, Comboy 8, Orizu 8, Bienes 8, Stockton 5, Escoto 4, Ebona 0, Tuffin 0, Gonzales 0, Bayquin 0
ATENEO 60 - Kouame 16, Verano 8, Ravena 8, Nieto Mi 8, Asistio 6, Mamuyac 6, Mendoza 4, Go 2, Wong 2, Tio 0, Navarro 0, Belangel 0, Nieto Ma 0, Black 0
QUARTER SCORES: 11-19, 22-32, 39-39, 63-60
Arvin Tolentino served his one-game suspension versus Ateneo. He was called for a disqualifying foul for hitting Adamson's Sean Manganti on the face, forcing him to leave the playing court. A disqualifying foul automatically merits a suspension.
Ateneo's starting point guard Matt Nieto only played seven minutes after suffering a finger injury in the second quarter. He did not play the entire second half.
Ateneo - October 14 (Sun) vs UP Fighting Maroons at Mall of Asia Arena
FEU - October 14 (Sun) vs UST Growling Tigers at Mall of Asia Arena