MANILA, Philippines — Far Eastern University (FEU) bolstered its Final 4 bid last Sunday after holding off University of the Philippines (UP) in overtime, and the Tamaraws are determined to keep springing surprises on the UAAP in the second round of Season 82.
The Tamaraws finished the first round with a 3-4 win-loss record, putting them just outside the top 4. But their 82-79 win against the Fighting Maroons — which saw them recover in overtime after squandering a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter — allowed them to force a tie for third place.
At 4-4, FEU is now crowding De La Salle University and University of Santo Tomas for the third and fourth spots, while Ateneo de Manila University (8-0) remains perched at the top, and UP (5-3) is at second.
“UP, on paper, is more talented than us,” conceded FEU veteran Ken Tuffin, after their hard-earned win. “But this FEU team, you can expect us to continue to work hard.”
The Tamaraws stayed in front of UP for most of the game, even leading by as much as 19 points. They were up by 16 in the fourth period when they went cold, and gave up a 16-0 run to the Fighting Maroons.
But the Tams regained their composure in overtime, when big shots by Tuffin and fellow veteran Ino Comboy allowed them to turn back last year’s runners-up.
Tuffin, who nailed the go-ahead three-pointer with under a minute left, said it was a matter of them tuning out all external factors and focusing on the game.
“Just stay composed,” he said of his message to his teammates. “Their crowd is crazy, all the factors, the crowd, the cheering, all the hype and stuff.”
“But we just focused on one possession at a time. And we pride ourselves on our defense,” he added. “If we play good defense, it gives us a chance to win in the end game.”
They will bank on that defense for the rest of the tournament as they try to barge into the Final 4 once again.
“Hopefully, we can some surprise some people in the next games,” Tuffin said.
The Tamaraws play National University on Wednesday.
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