MIKE Tolomia scored 22 points in his return to full fitness as Far Eastern University snapped De La Salle’s seven-game winning streak with a 74-70 win on Wednesday in the UAAP Season 77 men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Tolomia capped a brilliant performance by scoring FEU’s last five points, including an uncontested lay-up off his missed free throw with 5.9 seconds left to seal the win that gave the Tamaraws a sweep of their elimination meetings against the reigning champions.
FEU also took the top spot in the team standings with an 8-2 win-loss card, with La Salle joining National University and Ateneo (7-3) in second place as the race for seeds in the Final Four heats up.
The win also came as a fitting parting gift for FEU coach Nash Racela, who left for the airport immediately after the game to take a flight to Spain, where he will join Gilas Pilipinas in its campaign in the Fiba World Cup.
Racela said the long travel to Spain will be a lot more pleasant, thanks to the victory.
“That’s actually the objective, to get a victory today,” Racela said. “Maybe about 20 hours (of travel to Spain) tapos talo, hindi ako makakatulog nun. Medyo okay, thanks to my players.”
The Tamaraws won after falling behind, 35-26, at halftime, which Racela blamed on the team's lack of decisiveness.
“Tentative sila. I don’t know why because they might be playing a perceived finalist. Sabi lang namin, we can’t be tentative playing against a very strong team against La Salle,” said Racela.
Before his breakout game, Tolomia only played a few minutes against University of Santo Tomas over the weekend due to fever. He was confined in a hospital after the game and was released on the eve of the La Salle match.
FEU clinched the win in an unconventional manner with no one boxing Tolomia out after he missed the second free throw. That gave the Tamaraw star an open lane to score the game-clinching basket.
La Salle had come within a point, 69-68, on a Norbert Torres putback with 48.5 seconds left in the fourth. Tolomia sank two free throws with 14.8 seconds left after a La Salle turnover, 71-68.
FEU (74) – Tolomia 22, Belo 11, Inigo 10, Pogoy 7, Ru. Escoto 7, Jose 5, Cruz 4, Hargrove 4, Tamsi 4, Dennison 0, Ugsang 0.
DLSU (70) – Teng 28, N. Torres 13, Perkins 8, Vosotros 7, Van Opstal 5, Sargent 4, Montalbo 3, Rivero 2, Bolick 0, Andrada 0, Tratter 0.
Quarterscores: 15-19, 26-35, 52-51, 74-70.