By Jean Malanum
MANILA – University of the Philippines (UP) ended Far Eastern University’s (FEU) Final Four bid with a dominant 81-64 victory in the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball tournament at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on Saturday.
The UP Maroons stayed on top at 10-2, with the National University Bulldogs (9-2) and De La Salle Archers (8-3) also chasing the twice-to-beat edge in the semifinals.
Sean Aldous Torculas scored 13 points for the Fighting Maroons, who improved their record to 10-2 and ousted the Tamaraws (3-9).
“I feel blessed,” said the 6-foot-4 Torculas, who also had five rebounds, two assists and two steals. “I’m just doing my role in the team. I’m just gonna keep doing what I’m doing so one game at a time.”
Francis Lopez contributed 12 points, nine rebounds, four assists, one steal and one block, while Harold Alarcon and Chicco Briones chipped in 11 and nine points, respectively.
The Tamaraws failed to advance to the semifinal round for the second straight season.
LJ Gonzales delivered a game-high 20 points, four rebounds and four steals, while Jorick Bautista added 17 points, five rebounds and two assists for FEU, which also bowed to UP, 76-80, in overtime on Oct. 11.
“We’re just taking this one practice and one game at a time. We know what’s at stake, obviously. Last game, it clinched ‘yung (the) Final Four spot for us and now it’s another goal,” UP assistant coach Christian Luanzon said.
“Coach Gold (Monteverde) is reminding the players. There’s this thing that we call keep pounding. Even all throughout the game, he was reminding the players that you can’t get home run plays for a pound,” Luanzon added.
UP 81 – Torculas 13, Lopez 12, Alarcon 11, Briones 9, Cagulangan 7, Diouf 6, Felicilda 4, Pablo 4, Abadiano 4, Gonzales 4, Torres 3, Cansino 2, Gagate 2, Alter 0, Belmonte 0.
FEU 64 – Gonzales 20, Bautista 17, Sleat 8, Torres 8, Faty 6, Tempra 3, Ona 2, Bagunu 0, Montemayor 0, Buenaventura 0, Felipe 0, Competente 0.
Quarterscores: 16-13, 34-27, 60-47, 81-64 (PNA)