A SHORTHANDED Far Eastern University leaned on the clutch plays of Mike Tolomia to upend San Beda, 62-56, on Monday and get its Final Four campaign in the Philippine Collegiate Champions League off to a flyer at the Blue Eagle Gym in Quezon City.
Without head coach Nash Racela and stalwart Mark Belo, who are both in Myanmar with the national team for the ongoing Southeast Asian Games, the Tamaraws turned to Tolomia who delivered the key baskets and assists down the stretch to carry them to victory.
Tolomia, now the Tamaraws' acknowledged star following the departure of Terrence Romeo and RR Garcia, registered 23 points, four boards, and four assists.
More importantly, the third year guard had a hand in all but two of the Tamaraws’ last 10 points, scoring on a tough layup, a floater, and two free throws before setting up Anthony Hargove’s dunk that made it 61-55 for the winners, who overhauled a sizeable deficit early in the third quarter.
“Hindi na kami ganun ka-talented individually, so we had to rely on our team defense,” assistant coach Eric Gonzales said in turning back the newly crowned NCAA champions.
The Tamaraws gave the Lions a taste of their own medicine, limiting the defensive-oriented squad to just 31.3-percent (21-of-67) shooting, while making 26-of-62 shots (41.9 percent).
Carl Cruz was the only other double-digit scorer for the Tamarawswith 11 points, while Achie Iñigo, a point guard, posted numbers usually produced by a big man with eight points and 10 boards.
The Tamaraws next face another heavyweight in UAAP champion La Salle on Tuesday, while the Lions face Southwestern University.
FEU (62) – Tolomia 23, Cruz 11, Iñigo 8, Hargrove 8, Pogoy 4, Jose 4, Lee Yu 2, Mendoza 2, Denison 0, Sentcheu 0
SBC (56) – Dela Cruz 13, Sara 12, Dela Rosa 10, Adeogun 9, A. Semerad 3, Amer 3, Pascual 2, Abarcar 2, D. Semerad 2, Ludovice 2, Koga 0
Quarterscores: 14-14, 24-30, 46-40, 62-56