Far Eastern University's Be Brave mantra permeated with the Tamaraws as they eked out a 82-79 overtime victory against University of the Philippines in UAAP Season 82 Sunday evening at the Mall of Asia Arena.
All aware of the comeback capabilities of their more talented opponents, FEU remained in the course and stayed neck-and-neck with the Maroons -- even though losing a 16-point fourth quarter lead was deflating in itself.
FEU's masterful performance was in stark contrast to their performance in the last six minutes of regulation. After Patrick Tchuente banked a layup over reigning UAAP MVP Bright Akhuetie to lead 69-53 with 5:58 left, it would be the last time anybody in an FEU uniform scored in regulation.
UP and their firepower scored 16 straight points to force overtime, capped off by Javi Gomez de Liaño's fastbreak layup with 24.7 left.
Ino Comboy almost played hero for Morayta but his line-drive attempt from downtown rolled out as thousands of spectators were treated to an extra five minutes of basketball.
"They might not be as talented as the other teams, as experienced, but we continue to fight," FEU head coach Olsen Racela told reporters. "I think that's what gives us a chance in the endgame."
True to their word, Kenneth Tuffin delivered for the team, as he swished one of his five triples with 57.2 seconds remaining in the extra period to give his team a 80-77 lead with 57.2 seconds remaining in the extra period.
Sophomore starting guard LJ Gonzales tallied a career-high of 17 points and 12 rebounds, with six assists to boot.
The taller Gomez de Liaño was not able to force the game to a second overtime as his long bomb attempt bricked.
FEU secured the rebound and dribbled the ball to milk the clock to force a three-way tie at third place with UST and DLSU at 4-4.
UP remains at second as they sank to 5-3. The Maroons are also without head coach Bo Perasol, who is serving the first day of his three-game suspension. Lead assistant coach Ricky Dandan took over, but could not supply a win, although they retained their second-place standing at 5-3.
"Hard-fought win for us. That's what you expect every game in the UAAP," furthered Racela. "I told my players before the game that we have to focus on what's right in front of us."
Kobe Paras, who was not able to play in their first-round matchup, ended up with all-around statistics of 22 markers, nine boards, and six steals, including one highlight dunk in the first half.
Another point of Racela to his boys was to immediately take control of the game, and they did. FEU had its largest lead at 19, 55-36 midway through the third quarter.
FEU (82) -- Tuffin 18, Gonzales 17, Tchuente 14, Torres 12, Comboy 10, Stockton 5, Cani 4, Eboña 2, Alforque 0, Bayquin 0, Bienes 0, Celzo 0, Nunag 0.
UP (79) -- Paras 22, Akhuetie 14, Gomez de Liaño Ja. 11, Gomez de Liaño Ju. 8, Manzo 7, Tungcab 5, Rivero 4, Spencer 3, Webb 3, Prado 2, Jaboneta 0, Murrell 0.
Quarter Scores: 18-17, 30-27, 60-43, 69-69, 82-79
- FEU had its largest lead at 19, 55-36 midway through the third quarter.
- Racela just arrived in Manila after serving as assistant coach for Ginebra in Dubai early Sunday morning.
FEU: Wednesday, October 9 vs NU, 10:30 a.m. at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum
UP: Saturday, October 12 vs UE, 4 p.m. at the Mall of Asia Arena