FEU guard Terrence Romeo scored a career-high 24 points, including a pair of free throws with 2.1 seconds left in the game, to help the Tamaraws escape the UP Fighting Maroons, 73-70, in Season 75 action of the UAAP at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Romeo had an impressive all-around performance, with team-highs of nine rebounds and eight assists, as FEU climbed into a share of the lead at 5-1. UP dropped down to 0-5.
The Tamaraws worked their way to a comfortable halftime lead, 41-32, behind 10 points, five rebounds and six assists from Romeo. But UP came charging back in the third quarter, cutting the lead down to one, 45-44, at the 5:50 mark after a Mike Silungan three-pointer.
FEU mounted a quick 8-1 run, built around two triples from Romeo, to put the lead back up to eight. The Tams then went on a 8-2 burst to start the final period, giving them a big 15-point lead with less than eight minutes to play.
But the Fighting Maroons refused to go away, scoring seven unanswered points. Romeo knocked down two charities to stop the bleeding for FEU, but UP scored the next six points to get within four, 70-66, with 3:52 to play.
The Maroons looked like they would cut it down to just two with about three minutes left, when a Diony Hipolito layup was swatted away by FEU’s Anthony Hargrove after the ball had already hit the backboard. But there was no goaltending call on the play and Romeo would hit another free throw to restore a five-point lead, 71-66.
UP made one last run when Alvin Padilla hit a three and Mark Lopez earned a trip to the free throw line with a chance to tie the game with two charities with just five seconds to play.
But Lopez went 1-for-2 at the line and Romeo knocked down his own free throws to seal the final score.
“Buti na lang savior itong si Terrence. Kasi bad game si RR (Garcia) dahil napasama ang pakiramdam,” said FEU coach Bert Flores.
The former MVP Garcia, who is struggling with a sprain, scored just five points for the Tamaraws, but had six rebounds and three assists.
Romeo said he was focused on bouncing back from the Tamaraws’ previous outing, a tough four-point loss to the NU Bulldogs.
“Yung last game ko ang focus ko is maitira ko yung three-points. Kaya ngayon pag may pagkakataon na mag-drive at pumasa, yun na ginagawa ko,” said Romeo.
Hargrove added 10 points and nine boards for the Tamaraws.
Silungan led the Fighting Maroons with 12 points while Raul Soyud had 11 points and 11 rebounds.
FEU (73) – Romeo 24, Hargrove 10, Tolomia 7, Mendoza 6, Belo 6, Garcia 5, A. Bringas 5, Escoto 5, Cruz 3, Pogoy 2, M. Bringas 0.
UP (70) – Silungan 12, Soyud 11, Lopez 9, Ball 8, Padilla 8, Montecastro 8, Manuel 5, Hipolito 4, Gamboa 3, Mbah 2, Wierzba 0, Romero 0, Asilum 0.
Quarterscores: 22-15, 41-32, 60-51, 73-70.