FEU crashes UAAP Final Four party, eliminates De La Salle for no. 4 seed: Far Eastern University continued its Final Four streak to a sixth straight season, eliminating De La Salle, 71-70, and securing the fourth place in the UAAP Season 81 men’s basketball tournament Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Arvin Tolentino salvaged the Tamaraws’ season with a clutch three-pointer from the top of the key that gave them their final lead with 3.1 seconds to play.
La Salle had one last chance to steal the win but could not get a decent shot off.
FEU has endured one of the more horrible stretches of any team this season, suffering a four-game skid in the middle of their campaign and falling to as low as sixth after competing in the top three.
But the Tamaraws managed to regroup just in the nick of time, bouncing back with four straight wins including the playoff.
Forward Arvin Tolentino personified that clutch fighting spirit for the Tamaraws when he capped off a 7-2 game-closing run with a roaring triple, and essentially the game-winner, with 3.1 seconds left.
“I love how this team battled through adversity the whole year,” said FEU head coach Olsen Racela. “They never gave up even when we had that four-game losing streak and they are the ones who are giving me the confidence.”
“It’s just fitting that we made the Final Four this way… I just love how these guys responded.”
The Green Archers still held a 70-66 lead with 1:03 left after Aljun Melecio’s tough layup and it almost seemed that all hope was lost for the Tamaraws at that point.
Kenneth Tuffin cut the deficit to two, 70-68, with 35 seconds left in the game with a long two-pointer that was reviewed during the Green Archers’ timeout after Tolentino’s clutch three-pointer.
La Salle had a last chance for the win but Santi Santillan could not convert on his layup attempt as the Tamaraws swarmed the basket in a last-gasp defensive effort.
FEU will face top seed Ateneo, which has a twice-to-beat advantage as the no. 1 seed.
Coincidentally, this is the third straight year that the Tamaraws and the Blue Eagles will go up against each other in the semifinals with Ateneo taking a 2-1 advantage in those series.