MONBERT Arong buried the pivotal basket for Far Eastern University following two crucial defensive stops by Prince Orizu, leading the Tamaraws past University of the Philippines, 51-49, on Sunday in the UAAP Season 79 seniors basketball tournament at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Arong scored a turnaround jumper with 14.6 seconds left to give the Tamaraws a 50-47 lead, which proved enough to hold off the gritty Maroons and hand the defending champions their third win in five games.
None of that would have been possible, however, if not for the defensive gems of Orizu.
With the game tied at 47 and UP looking for a fastbreak basket, Orizu hustled back to pull off a chasedown block on Jarrell Lim. After Arong hit one free throw with 55.3 seconds left, Orizu put on another defensive gem when he blocked an attempt by Paul Desiderio to set up Arong's clutch basket.
“It was a struggle,” FEU coach Nash Racela said. “We knew all along that this game will really be difficult especially with UP coming off a win.”
Arong topscored for FEU with 14 points while Orizu grabbed 15 rebounds and swatted away four UP shots, two of them coming in the crucial stretch.
FEU’s Ron Dennison, however, was thrown out of the game following a disqualifying foul called on him with 2:48 left in the game for an alleged intentional hit on Desiderio.
Racela later questioned the call.
Both teams struggled to put points on the board early in the game with UP leading FEU, 5-4, at the end of the first quarter, where the two teams shot a combined 4-of-31 from the field.
Desiderio had 15 points in a gallant stand for the Maroons, who trailed by as high as 13 points. UP fall to 1-4.