DE La Salle broke Far Eastern University’s resolve with crippling runs in the second half to hack out a 71-68 victory at the MOA Arena on Wednesday and seal its first finals appearance in the UAAP men's basketball tournament in five years.
The Green Archers overcame an 11-point deficit in the third quarter with a swashbuckling finish to get a shot at winning its first championship since Franz Pumaren's last title with the team in 2007.
Jeron Teng, LA Revilla, and Norbert Torres made big baskets in the fourth to score 15 points each for the Green Archers, who will await the winner of the University of Santo Tomas-National University semifinal match.
The Taft-based squad last made the finals when it bowed to Ateneo in 2008, which marked the start of the Blue Eagles’ run of five straight league championships.
The Pumaren-coached Green Archers defeated University of the East in a sweep of the 2007 title series.
The Green Archers went on a 19-9 flurry to finish the game with the victory after trailing for much of the game against a Tamaraws squad aching to force a deciding game.
“I’ve got to hand it to them, they played their heart out in the last four or five minutes of the fourth quarter, that is why they were able to pull this one through,” said La Salle coach Juno Sauler.
Revilla stole the ball from season MVP Terrence Romeo, Arnold Van Opstal scored on a hook shot to tie the game at 59 while Torres gave La Salle the lead with back-to-back baskets including one that beat the shotclock for a 65-63 lead.
Roger Pogoy answered with a three-pointer but that proved to be FEU’s last stand with Teng hitting two free throws and one jumper for a 69-66 advantage.
Teng triggered La Salle’s fourth-quarter run with two free throws in the final minute of the third quarter to turn a 56-47 deficit into a 56-52 tally entering the fourth.
It was a disappointing end to the season for FEU, which swept its first-round matches but sputtered in the final stretch of the tournament in a collapse capped by two losses to the Archers.
Former MVP RR Garcia, one of the league's biggest stars, also finished his collegiate career without a UAAP title.
The Tamaraws appeared to have total control of the game after taking a 49-38 lead midway in the third but the tide turned in the final quarter when the Green Archers launched their fightback.
Carl Bryan Cruz had 16 points while Romeo finished with 14 points in his MVP season for the Tamaraws.
Romeo, however, failed to deliver in the clutch scoring only two points in the fourth and missing a three inside the one-minute mark.
Garcia had 10 markers but only had three in the fourth. His three-pointer would have given FEU the edge with 1:56 left in the game but it was halfway in before rimming out.
DLSU (71) – N. Torres 15, Teng 15, Revilla 15, Perkins 8, Van Opstal 6, Vosotros 5, T. Torres 4, Montalbo 3, Tampus 0, Salem 0, De La Paz 0.
FEU (68) – Cruz 16, Romeo 14, Garcia 10, Mendoza 8, Pogoy 6, Belo 5, Hargrove 4, Tolomia 3, Jose 2, Inigo 0, Sentcheu 0.
Quarterscores: 18-21; 31-38; 52-56; 71-68.