FINALLY, Arvin Tolentino was the hero for Far Eastern University as the Morayta crew got over a monumental hump that was La Salle.
The graduating forward hit the killer three-pointer from the top of the arc with 3.1 seconds left to carry the Tamaraws over the Green Archers, 71-70, and into the Final Four of UAAP Season 81 on Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The game-winning trey came as sweet redemption for Tolentino, who has had a number of blunders in his college career, the biggest of all a turnover late in the Tamaraws' Final Four loss to Ateneo last season.
Now, Tolentino and the Tamaraws get another shot at the top-seeded Blue Eagles in the Final Four on Sunday, still at the Big Dome.
Ateneo will have twice-to-beat advantage in the playoff.
"I love how this team battled through adversity," said FEU coach Olsen Racela. "It's just fitting that we made the Final Four this way. They never gave up kahit sa four-game losing streak namin and sila ang nagbibigay sa akin ng kumpyansa."
Tolentino, a transferee from Ateneo, hit three treys to highlight a 15-point, five-rebound, two-block performance. His most important contribution came when he caught a pass from Jasper Parker and hit the dagger to punctuate a 7-2 finishing kick that enabled FEU to battle back from a 68-64 deficit in the last 1:28.
La Salle tried to steal the win in the end game, but Santi Santillan's undergoal stab off a perfectly executed inbound play bounced off the rim at the buzzer.
Barkley Ebona also stepped up big for FEU as the young slotman contributed 12 points and 16 big rebounds, 10 of which came on the offensive end, as he made up for the foul-riddled showing of center Prince Orizu.
"Even in this game, we battled through adversity. Prince was in foul trouble all game long and we were down four in the last minute. I love how these guys responded," said Racela.
Ken Tuffin got 11 points, including the long two that put the Tamaraws within two, 70-68 with 39.9 seconds remaining, while Richard Escoto had 10 and eight in the victory.
Santillan carried the load for the Green Archers with his 20 points and six rebounds while Aljun Melecio and Andrei Caracut added nine as La Salle missed the Final Four for the first time since 2015 - Juno Sauler's final season in Taft.
FEU 71 – Tolentino 15, Ebona 12, Tuffin 11, Escoto 10, Comboy 8, Parker 7, Inigo 5, Cani 2, Orizu 1, Stockton 0, Gonzales 0, Bienes 0.
La Salle 70 – Santillan 20, Melecio 9, Caracut 9, Montalbo 7, Baltazar 6, Manuel 5, Samuel 4, Dyke 3, Go 3, Bates 2, Serrano 2.
Quarters: 22-21, 36-38, 54-51, 71-70.