Playing lockdown defense throughout the game, the FEU Tamaraws pulled away late and registered their second win in UAAP Season 82 with a 66-55 decision over the De La Salle Green Archers Wednesday at MOA Arena.
Wendell Comboy was brilliant in the fourth quarter, scoring eight points, including two triples. The veteran guard finished with 11 points as he delivered key baskets down the stretch. Patrick Tchuente, meanwhile, had his best outing so far for the Tamaraws with 19 points and 11 rebounds.
"I'm just proud of the way we played today coming off that loss to Ateneo," said coach Olsen Racela pertaining to the Tamaraws' huge loss to the defending champions. "It just shows that the competition this season is so balanced. All the teams are capable of winning at any given moment, at any given time. So I'm just happy with the way we responded today especially coming off that loss to Ateneo."
The Tamaraws started out strong, building a double-digit lead in the first half before the Green Archers found their shooting late. From an advantage of as many as 16 points, it was reduced to just six heading into the final frame.
"Like I always tell my players, when another team makes a run, how will we respond? Make stops," said Racela. "For us, we don't want to end or cut their run by scoring. Our priority is making stops. And I think we did a good job today of really defending and making it hard for their main guys to score."
Just as Racela said, the Tamaraws leaned on their defense to get the win. La Salle finished with just 31 percent shooting, including 7-of-30 from beyond the arc. Jamie Malonzo top-scored with 20 points, but he needed 24 shots. The athletic forward also collected 15 rebounds and three assists. However, he lacked support from the rest of the Green Archers. Andrei Caracut was the only other in double-figures with 10 points. Justine Baltazar and Aljun Melecio, La Salle's usual top performers, managed just a combined 11 points on 5-of-24 shooting.
Comboy came alive late to seal the win but it was the solid play of Tchuente that helped FEU get the bounce-back victory.
"I'm so happy for the win today coming from the loss, as coach said. We have to show the FEU community that we can do better and we're going to stay focused and try to fight for the next game because every game is not the same," said Tchuente. "So we have to work hard again for the next game. That's it."
"I've been hard on him ever since because I expect a lot from Patrick," Racela said about his foreign student-athlete. "His goal really is to protect the paint, neutralize the opposing teams' import or foreign student-athlete and I think he has been doing a good job of that, but now he did more. That's not going to happen every game but I just like to commend him for his effort every single day in practice. He welcomes all our comments and criticisms. That's how we get better."
FEU 66 -- Tchuente 19, Comboy 11, Bienes 9, Ebona 8, Alforque 7, Gonzales 5, Tuffin 4, Torres 3, Cani 0, Nunag 0, Stockton 0.
LA SALLE 55 -- Malonzo 20, Caracut 10, Baltazar 6, Serrano 6, Melecio 5, Bates 2, Lojera 2, Meeker 2, Pado 2, Manuel 0.
Quarters: 19-14,36-24, 49-43, 66-55.
- Jamie Malonzo missed La Salle's previous game versus the UE Red Warriors due to a wrist injury.
- Before his breakout game on Wednesday, Patrick Tchuente came into the contest versus La Salle averaging just six points per game.
- Aside from shooting poorly from the field, the Green Archers also missed their mark from the foul line, hitting just 4-of-13.
DLSU vs ADU on September 21 at Ynares Antipolo
FEU vs UST on September 22 at Ynares Antipolo