UST had its moment on defense, holding FEU to just five points in the second quarter, but the Tams couldn't be kept down for long, getting a two-point lead late thanks to a run out by RR Garcia after Karim Abdul got blocked, and a swipe of the inbounds and the layup by Ping Exciminiano, 59-57, 37 seconds left in the game. On the next UST possession, Abdul made up for his denied shot by getting a jump ball to Jeric Fortuna, who tied things up with a clutch jumper. Calling timeout, FEU ran a play with Garcia as decoy, driving into the heart of the defense and causing UST to collapse into the shaded lane. That allowed last season's MVP to kick it out to an open Cris Tolomia, who drained the game-winning triple, allowing Far Eastern to escape, 62-59. (Recap here)
What's at Stake:
- The 7-5 UST Growling Tigers have two shots to get one more win, which is all they need to eliminate the DLSU Green Archers from contention (though it may not matter if DLSU loses to NU in the undercard game). Even if La Salle is out of it though, the seedings from #2 to #4 are still wildly in flux, and so every win counts.
- At 8-5, a win would put FEU just a half-game behind idle Adamson, in prime position to force a playoff for the twice-to-beat advantage, or even usurp the position entirely. A loss though, ties them with UST at 8-5.
UST Player to Watch : Karim Abdul couldn't bring his scoring punch to the mix, at least for this game, as the bull-strong center managed just three points on 1 of 7 shooting from the field, 1 of 4 from the stripe. He's averaged 14.6 points in the second round, with just one single-digit scoring game, a nine-point effort versus DLSU, and so odds are good he'll be able to battle down low with Aldrech Ramos and Mark Bringas.
FEU Player to Watch : Terrence Romeo's numbers have been on an upswing as of the past three games, and he even managed to go the last outing without a boneheaded turnover. He dropped 21 points on 8 of 15 shooting versus UE, providing some much-needed punch to compliment the veterans Garcia and Ramos. They'll need him on both ends, offensively to counter the possibility of a rain of three-pointers, and defensively, preventing Jeric Fortuna from going off. We'll see if he can pull it off.
Prediction: UST Growling Tigers