Veteran guard Monbert Arong delivered timely buckets in the stretch as defending champion Far Eastern U turned back University of the East in a physical encounter on Sunday 67-59 to get its UAAP Season 79 men’s basketball title campaign back on track at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The lefty Arong pumped in a game-high 16 points, the last six of them coming in the final canto to help the Tamaraws hold off the Red Warriors’ uprising and recover from a 71-76 defeat dealt by Ateneo last Wedneday.
FEU improved to an even 2-2 mark, forging a three-way tie with Ateneo and host University of Santo Tomas.
UE dropped its third straight match, keeping itself tied with fellow struggling University of the Philippines at the cellar.
“It’s a test of character for us. I was looking at how we’ll be able to bounce back,” said FEU coach Nash Racela, visibly pleased how the Tamaraws pull off the victory despite the absence of injured vital cogs Richard Escoto and Ino Comboy.
Skipper Raymar Jose also shone for FEU, hauling down a career-high 22 rebounds while adding 11 points and two assists against six errors in 32 minutes of play.
Mark Olayon tallied 12 markers and tried hard to help the Red Warriors recover in the stretch but they could only come with three at 59-62 with 1:26 left to play, no thanks to the disqualifying foul committed by rookie Wil Bartolome against Tamaraws’ Ron Dennison. – By Jerome Lagunzad
FEU 67 – Arong 16, Inigo 12, Jose 11, Bayquin 6, Dennison 5, Trinidad 4, Holmqvist 4, Ebona 4, Tuffin 3, Orizu 2, Bienes 0
UE 59 – Olayon 12, Derige 9, Bartolome 6, Palma 6, Charcos 5, Pasaol 5, Varilla 4, Manalang 3, Abanto 3, Batiller 3, De Leon 2, Acuno 1, Armenio 0, Larupay 0, Gagate 0
Quarterscores: 19-15, 42-32, 55-32, 67-59.