FEU Tamaraws def. UST Growling Tigers 72-58
Royce Alforque (16 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists)
It was another career game for Alforque who seemingly came out of nowhere to grab a spot in coach Olsen Racela’s rotation. He had an answer for every UST mini-run thanks to his speed and playmaking. He was especially dangerous in the second half where he scored 13 of his points including aggressive drives and clutch baskets. If he can continue this kind of play, the Tamaraws will have a pretty dangerous point guard rotation with him and LJay Gonzales in the years to come.
Pat Tchuente (11 rebounds) and Barkley Ebonia (5 rebounds, 1 steal)
These two bigs proved that scoring isn’t always everything. Tchuente in particular struggled all game long as he missed all 10 of his attempts, including two emphatic swats by Soulemane Chabi Yo and Rhenz Abando. But that didn’t deter him nor Ebonia as their motor and rebounding combined were huge for FEU as they cleaned up every defensive possession. They also helped wear down Chabi Yo who wasn’t much of a factor offensively in this game.
Rey Bienes (9 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals)
He is probably FEU’s unsung hero for this game as he scored all of his points in the critical final period when UST threatened to come back. He hit three clutch triples including two daggers in the final minutes. What made it even more impressive was that he only made five total threes before this game. He came up big when the Tamaraws needed it most. It speaks to their incredible depth and player development.
Brent Paraiso (12 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal)
Paraiso continues to be a bright spot for UST, especially on a day when they had less than a handful of positives to take away. He seemed to be the only one able to consistently get buckets. In fact, he was the only one made more than 40% of his shots, hitting five of his eight attempts. Not even Abando or Chabi Yo were close to his efficiency. As much as he has improved, UST won’t get far if he has to be their top scorer frequently.
- FEU toyed with them in the fourth quarter, when UST threatened with back to back threes, they answered right back, Alforqgue and Gonzales had repeated open lanes because of the three point threat, once UST adjusted and collapsed, FEU kicked out, this is why they are such a wild card, you don’t know which version will play each game
- FEU’s defense was definitely the highlight in this one as they held UST to just 29.3% shooting from the field and 21.4% from beyond the arc. They were extremely disciplined in switching and making sure they don’t get open looks from deep. At the same time, as mentioned earlier, they held down the paint thanks to rugged play from Tchuente, Ebonia and others. They completely shut Chabi Yo down and forced the Growling Tigers to try and beat them from the outside all game.
- FEU didn’t just shine defensively though with their offense going to work after a rough start. In the final period, they pretty much toyed with UST’s defense. When they threatened to stage a comeback after back to back triples, the Tamaraws responded right back with Alforque and Gonzales getting open lanes to the hoop. FEU had enough shooting threats on the floor that made UST extremely hesitant on leaving their men, hence the easy drives to the basket. And once they adjusted by collapsing into the paint, the Tamaraws changed it up and kicked out to open shooters to seal the win. It showed a certain level of discipline and maturity to play that way. It definitely helped that they cleaned up their turnovers with just eight. This is the kind of play that shows how much of a dark horse final four candidate they can be. You just don’t know which version will show up every game.
- UST didn’t help themselves by playing right into FEU’s hands. From the start of the game, they jacked up three after three resulting in just nine makes out of 42 attempts, more than half of their 75 attempts. As they say, they live and die by the three. About the only positive thing they did statistically was get more second chance opportunites. Even then, it felt like FEU still outhustled them all game despite the clear advantage. Their mistake was probably forcing the outside shot to free up the paint instead of the other way around. Chabi Yo was contained with just seven points on nine attempts. He also only went to the line twice. FEU did a fantastic job on him but a lot of that was also self-inflicted. The Growling Tigers seemed to refuse to set him up inside to create, especially in the fourth quarter when they needed it most. They would stand to gain a lot from remembering to run it through the league’s leading MVP contender.