By Claro Manzano
FEU Tamaraws def. NU Bulldogs 79-74
LJ Gonzales, FEU (9 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists)
We have seen Terrence Romeo, RR Garcia and Mike Tolomia ball out for FEU and now there’s LJ Gonzales. The former Baby Tamaraw was entrusted more playing time en-route to tying his career-high. Gonzales displayed his shiftiness to breakdown the NU defense and was superb on the pick and roll to setup his teammates. His team-first mentality blended in seamlessly with the Tamaraws’ current crop of scorers and shooters.
Kenneth Tuffin, FEU (15 points, five rebounds, and two steals)
Beyond finishing as the Tamaraws’ second leading scorer was Tuffin’s willingness to do the dirty work. He locked down Dave Ildefonso and forced him to take looks from the perimeter, outside of his comfort zone. Tuffin held Ildefonso to three points in the first half as FEU built a sizable lead heading into halftime at 44-28. Following Gonzales’ three-point play midway in the fourth, Tuffin iced the Bulldogs’ momentum further as he grabbed a steal and went coast-to-coast for a long he ufusensational left-handed jam.y
John Lloyd Clemente, NU (38 points on 14/25 FG, 5 3FGM, and 3 rebounds)
Clemente just continued to do his thing for the Bulldogs and recorded the most points by any player this season. Whether it’s a catch and shoot or off the dribble, the rookie continued to shoot the lights out for NU to stay within distance. Clemente went on to drop 21 of his 38 points in the third. At a point in time, attention of the FEU defense completely shifted to the swingman and this momentarily gave leeway to Dave Ildefonso and company to chip in.
Shaun Ildefonso (11 rebounds, 8 offensive rebounds)
Eight offensive rebounds. The elder Ildefonso did more than just rack up numbers. Shaun just proved that his ball sense is at another level. He did not grab his rebounds from just being down low, but knew where to go at the right time. His hustle was rewarded as it sparked Clemente’s sensational scoring outburst in the third.
- The drive and kick proved to be the trick for the Tamaraws. They went on to score 35 of their 46 perimeter points in the first half alone and finished the game with 19 assists.
- In their late bid to chase the game, NU Head Coach Jamike Jarin resorted to putting Dave Ildefonso and Mohammad Salim at point guard and center, respectively. This proved to be unsuccessful as FEU went on to contain them and nail key baskets.
- Although NU managed to get motion in its offense going on, the Bulldogs struggled to get ideal looks at the basket. With the shot clock expiring, they resorted to swinging the ball to Clemente and D. Ildefonso for baskets.
- FEU now holds a 7-6 standing and is currently tied with the UP Fighting Maroons for the last ticket to the Final Four. They currently sit just behind the De La Salle Green Archers (8-5). FEU, UP, and La Salle are currently in a logjam for the third and fourth seeds. Teams that are tied at the end of elimination round will figure in a playoff to determine their seeding.
- No matter the result of the UP game on Wednesday, FEU needs to treat next Sunday’s game versus Adamson as must win. It’s do or die time.