Timely Mike Tolomia treys enable FEU Tamaraws to hold off tough NU Bulldogs stand
Mike Tolomia is clutch for FEU in the endgame. Jerome Ascano

MIKE Tolomia hit two big three-pointers in the fourth quarter as Far Eastern University won its fifth straight game, beating National University, 61-59, on Wednesday to wrap-up hostilities in the first round of the UAAP Season 78 men’s basketball tournament at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

In a rematch of last season’s finals, it was the runner-ups Tamaraws who got a measure of revenge after Tolomia broke a 52-52 standoff with back-to-back threes for a 58-52 lead with 1:49 remaining.

NU was able to cut FEU’s lead down to two, but Alfrancis Tamsi intercepted a pass from Alfred Aroga in the dying seconds to deny the Bulldogs a shot at a tying basket.

FEU improved its record to 6-1 win-loss, tying University of Santo Tomas - winner over University of the East in the day's opening game - at the top of the standings going to the second round of the elims.

Tolomia finished with 19 points behind a 3-of-6 clip from three-point range for the Tamaraws, who snapped the Bulldogs’ three-game winning run. NU slipped to 3-4.

“It’s just another game that we need to play correctly,” said FEU head coach Nash Racela, playing down the revenge factor at the end of a fiercely fought match.

“We weren’t thinking that we were playing the defending champions. At the end of it all, it’s a good feeling to beat the defending champions,” Racela added.

FEU trailed at halftime, 24-39, but its defense took over in the third quarter, holding NU scoreless in the first six minutes to turn the game around. The Tamaraws outscored the Bulldogs, 16-6, in the third.

“I think it was in the back of their minds (playing against the defending champions) that’s why we started slow,” said Racela.

Alfred Aroga had 17 points and 14 rebounds while Gelo Alolino and Kyle Neypes each had 10 for the Bulldogs.

The scores:

FEU (61) — Tolomia 19, Belo 9, Pogoy 7, Ru. Escoto 5, Arong 4, Jose 4, Orizu 4, Tamsi 4, Trinidad 3, Ri. Escoto 2, Comboy 0, Ebona 0, K. Holmqvist 0, S. Holmqvist 0, Inigo 0.

NU (59) — Aroga 17, Alolino 10, Neypes 10, Alejandro 7, Javelona 4, Morido 4, Abatayo 3, Salim 2, Tansingco 2, Diputado 0, Javillonar 0.

Quarterscores: 13-11, 29-34, 45-40, 61-59.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @reubensports