The Bulldogs played the Tamaraws well early on, posting a 57-53 lead early in the fourth quarter, but defensive adjustments by FEU head coach Bert Flores had them shifting to a 2-3 zone, suffocating the NU defense, with Christian Sentcheu anchoring the middle with his height and wingspan. Because of that, the NU offense ground to a halt, scoring just five points in the final period, allowing consecutive jump shots by FEU to seal the deal, 62-59. RR Garcia's 17 points, four rebounds and three assists paced the Tams, while Bobby Ray Parks scored 11 points, to go with five rebounds, three assists and three steals, though he was a non-factor in the final period. (Recap here)
What's at Stake:
- Upsetting Adamson improved FEU's chances of securing the third seed as they go to 6-4, while still maintaining an outside shot at #2. To keep both those futures alive though, they'll need to keep winning, especially against the lower-tier squads. A loss here in fact, could actually eliminate NU from the Final Four race.
- Beating UP keeps the dream alive, putting NU at 4-6, but one more loss ends NU's Final Four hopes, which were already shaky, given that they need collapses from UST and DLSU to sneak in. A win here keeps them going another day, and after that they'll spend Sunday glued to their TVs, hoping the Tigers and Archers both fall.
FEU Player to Watch : Terrence Romeo picked up his game in their last meeting versus Adamson, with a line that reads, 14 points on 50 percent shooting, seven rebounds, and five assists. But he still committed five turnovers, including a crucial one late that could have led to an Alex Nuyles layup that cut the lead down to one, but just as easily could have led to a game-knotting triple. That said, Romeo hit a big triple in their first round encounter, so that might carry over to this game.
NU Stat to Watch : NU's second round numbers have been inflated, by virtue of their two blowout wins against UE and UP. The figures have them norming 45.52 percent on two-pointers and 42.22 percent from the field, while holding opponents to just 54 points. In their loss to Adamson though, NU was 41.51 percent inside the arc, and just 36.07 percent overall, as they were the ones who found themselves held to just 53 points, while the Falcons romped away for 68. It'll be interesting to see how the Bulldogs perform if this doesn't figure to be a blowout.
NU Player to Watch : Glenn Khobuntin has gone from starter and someone you need to factor into how to stop NU, to seldom used bench guy and non-factor on offense. He's averaging just 2.3 points and 3 rebounds in 14 minutes since the second round began, but it was not too long ago that he dropped 21 versus La Salle, fueling an NU comeback. He could provide a mismatch when FEU goes with a three-guard line-up with Parks on the bench, but he's someone who ought to get more minutes, especially in the light of how reliant the Bulldogs are on Parks and Mbe for scoring.
Prediction: NU Bulldogs