The FEU Fighting Tamaraws took Game 1 of the UAAP Season 78 Men's Basketball Finals over the UST Growling Tigers, 75-64, yesterday, November 25, at the SM MOA Arena. The Morayta-based squad was in control for almost the whole game, effectively surviving the Growling Tigers despite their late-game comeback, thanks to timely baskets and solid defense.
Roger Pogoy led the Tamaraws with 15 points and two steals. Prized rookie Prince Orizu was also impressive as he outmuscled UST’s Karim Abdul in the paint, and flirted with a double-double with 10 points and nine boards.
Abdul and Kevin Ferrer were the main guys for UST on offense, scoring 19 and 15 points, respectively. However, talented guard Ed Daquioag was limited to just four points on 1-of-7 shooting.
With the victory, the Tamaraws are now just a win away from winning this year’s title. Based on statistics, almost 70-percent of the teams who won Game 1 went on to become champions. If there's a silver lining for the Tigers though, it's that FEU was also in this same situation last year, but lost the next two games to the NU Bulldogs. Have they learned their lesson? We'll see.
After tasting their first defeat at the hands of the Tamaraws this season, and with their backs against the wall, the Tigers are expected to bounce back on Game 2 this Saturday, November 28, at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum. Will Daquioag return to his old, deadly form? Can Coach Bong Dela Cruz solve FEU's defensive puzzle in time? We will find out come game time.
For now, let's look back at Game 1 by checking out the priceless (and funny!) reactions that were captured by our cameras during the game's key moments.
Let's start off with...
This girl who mistook the game for a rock show...
To be fair, her team really did rock the SM MOA Arena—especially with Orizu's monster slams.
UST quickly established an early 6-0 advantage over FEU. Abdul immediately showcased his mid-range game.
He was really impressive with his Js (at least during the first quarter) that he even got Brod Pete's attention. Alien!
That guy in the middle seems doubtful though (have a little faith, man!).
UST's early onslaught was then countered by FEU's familiar hero. Who? Pogoy, of course.
Much to the relief of Coach Nash Racela...
"Brace yourselves, Pogoy's heroics are coming!"
The gutsy small forward poured in 12 first quarter points, which helped the Tamaraws seize a 28-24 advantage over the Growling Tigers at the end of the first period.
"Okay ba? Coach Nas... Teka bakit galit ka pa rin?"
It was all FEU in the second quarter. UST was swallowed whole by the Green and Gold's pace, and was disoriented both on offense and defense. They just can't buy a basket, and was clobbered in the rebounding department.
UST's bench be like:
"Dear St. Thomas, kahit isang basket lang, please."
Pogoy also sticked to Ferrer on defense like a clingy girlfriend. It certainly threw the MVP runner-up off his game.
"Kiss kita, sige!"
"Not sa ears, may kiliti ako diyan."
The game entered halftime with a score of 47-34 in favor of Vice Ganda's favorite squad.
Yes, the manong on the left has some serious photobombing skills.
The third quarter saw the Tigers slowly clawing back into the game. They got some stops, and converted some buckets. Not all of them looked nice, but a basket is still a basket.
"Bahala na si Benavidez dito!"
"Getting fouled on the act of shooting = free throws. Ipapasa ko na lang 'to!"
The boys from España cut the deficit down to six, 57-51, at the end of the third quarter. Coach Bong almost busted out his Drizzy Drake moves in excitement.
"Ready na yung nails ko for the press-con."
In the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, the revived Growling Tigers unleashed an early 6-0 run and grabbed the lead in the process.
"Spirit of Dirk Nowitzki, sumapi ka!"
The Tamaraws regrouped and stopped the bleeding by scoring their own 6-0 run led by their point guard, Mike Tolomia.
After a Russel Escoto three that made it 67-62 in favor of FEU with less than two minutes left in the game, UST called a timeout hoping of making a final push. It went to waste though, as rookie Marvin Lee committed crucial errors late in the game: two ill-advised fouls that sent the Tamaraws to the line.
"Argh. I'm doomed."
With their morale running low, The Tigers finished the game on a sour note as they committed a couple of turnovers in the final seconds of the game. FEU finished Game 1 with several made freethrows. The final score: 75-64.
This buff bro best exemplifies the FEU crowd's delight:
Game 2 is just two days away! Will the UST Growling Tigers force a Game 3? Or will the FEU Fighting Tamaraws finish the business and claim this year's championship? Will Mr. Biceps above rip his shirt off if they do?
We'll find out really soon!
Photography KC Cruz