FAR Eastern University got major contributions from Roger Pogoy and Prince Orizu as the Tamaraws scored a 75-64 victory over University of Santo Tomas in Game One of the UAAP Season 78 men’s basketball finals on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Tamaraws came up big in the first half with a lead as high as 14 points before a 14-0 run in the endgame knocked the wind off the sails of a rallying Tigers squad.
FEU can sweep the UAAP finals series with a win on Saturday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Tamaraws shot 51 percent from the field in the first half but thge Tigers were able to recover and even took the lead briefly, 62-61, halfway through the fourth quarter.
From there, FEU came up with a furious run sparked by Mac Belo and Mike Tolomia. Orizu had a follow-up slam before Tolomia connected on a lay-up that put FEU ahead, 71-62.
The win ended the Tamaraws' run of futility against the Tigers, who won their two elimination-round encounters this season.
Pogoy had 15 points, 12 in the first, to lead another balanced scoring attack by FEU. Tolomia had 14 points while Belo had a double-double of 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Tamaraws, who outrebounded the Tigers, 56-32, and had far more assists, 13-5.
Russel Escoto had 12 points while Orizu added 10 points and nine rebounds in a breakout game came at the right time as he also scored several dunks that sparked the Tamaraws early in the game.
FEU coach Nash Racela, however, pointed out defense was the key to victory.
“It’s because of our defense. They worked hard on defense at the start of the game and it showed today,” said Racela.
Karim Abdul had 19 points and nine rebounds, while Kevin Ferrer had 15 points for the Growling Tigers, who nearly pulled off another come-from-behind win.
FEU (75) — Pogoy 15, Tolomia 14, Belo 13, Ru. Escoto 12, Orizu 10, Tamsi 5, Jose 4, Arong 2, Dennison 0, Ri. Escoto 0, Inigo 0.
UST (64) — Abdul 19, Ferrer 15, Vigil 8, Bonleon 6, Sheriff 6, Lee 6, Daquioag 4, Faundo 0, Lao 0.
Quarterscores: 28-24; 47-34; 57-51; 75-64.