Veteran Monbert Arong drilled in a go-ahead jumper with 3.7 seconds left as defending champion Far Eastern U repeated over National U on Sunday, 57-56, to solidify its hold of the second spot in the UAAP Season 79 men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Off a timeout, the lefty Arong got an inbound pass from teammate Joel Trinidadfrom the right baseline, escaped the defense of National U center Alfred Aroga with a pump fake then soared over the outstretched arms of J-Jay Alejandro for the clutch bucket that sent the FEU faithful up on its feet.
The Bulldogs had another chance to steal the victory but the 6-foot-6 Aroga’s desperation jumper over Tamaraws counterpart Prince Orizu barely hit the rim as time expired.
It was the second straight victory by FEU over NU in a span of four days, having scored a 78-75 victory in their first-round meeting last Wednesday.
The Tamaraws went on to rack up their fifth straight victory and sixth overall in eight matches, while the Bulldogs suffered their second consecutive loss and dropped to an even 4-4 mark in a tie with Ateneo.
“NU made good adjustments for todays game made it really hard to execute. Though we allowed them to score less 60, the made adjustments that made it hard to defend them,” said FEU coach Nash Racela.
Skipper Raymar Jose tallied his fifth double-double outing of 14 markers and 12 rebounds but it was Arong who saved the day anew for the Tamaraws, giving him a strong follow-up performance to a 20-point performance in their devious victory.
Aroga tallied 20 markers and 13 rebounds but Alejandro groped for form after firing away 31 points the last time out, coming up with just seven on 1-of-10 shooting while accounting for four turnovers, the last of them coming against FEU center Ken Holmqvist in the closing seconds. – By Jerome Lagunzad
FEU (57) – Jose 14, Arong 13, Comboy 7, Trinidad 6, Escoto 5, Dennison 4, Holmqvist 3, Denila 2, Ebona 2, Orizu 1, Tuffin 0, Bayquin 0, Roxas 0
NU (56) – Aroga 22, Diputado R 8, Alejandro 7, Gallego 6, Sinclair 5, Morido 2, Pate 2, Go 2, Salim 1, Rangel 1, Salem 0, Diputado C 0, Mosqueda 0, Yu 0
Quarterscores: 19-19, 30-32, 45-50, 57-56.