MANILA, Philippines – Far Eastern University (FEU)-Diliman leaned anew on Roger Domingo's clutch shooting to outlast National University (NU) in three overtime periods, 113-109, to crown themselves 75th UAAP juniors basketball champions dethroning the Bulldogs today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Domingo, who starred in FEU's 78-77 triumph in Game 1 with a pivotal trey, hit two of his five triples in the third extension as the Baby Tams ascended to the throne for the first time since rejoining the league in 2005. It was also Baby Tams' first juniors crown since their former team from Morayta led by Johnny Abarrientos won in 1987.
The Baby Tams' triumph completed a double for FEU as the Lady Tams earlier dispatched La Salle, 70-66, to batter their way into the women's title via an unprecedented sweep of all their 16 assignments this year.
Domingo finished with 23 points on a five-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc in 47 minutes, his last triple giving the Baby Tams a 112-106 lead with 1:18 left, en route to the Finals MVP plum. Back-to-back season MVP Jerie Pingoy fired 32 points in 43 minutes, including four in OT 3, to go with 11 rebounds and seven asists.
"Ang biruan namin simula nung last year, siya yung S.W. namin, secret weapon. Talagang binuka namin sa kanya yan, sabi namin, ‘ready ka lang’ (We're fondly calling Roger Domingo our secret weapon. We really set those kick-out plays for him, telling him to just be ready)," said FEU coach Michael Oliver, who went to the courtside seats to hug and kiss his wife immediately after the final buzzer.
The Baby Tams actually enjoyed an 11-point lead in the third but allowed the Bullpups to catch up. FEU also had the upperhand entering the stretch of the fourth, the first overtime and second extension but failed to deliver the coup de grace against a resilient rival in each time.
"Nung first at second overtime, may chance manalo ang problema nagkaroon ng miscommunication sa defense. Yung mga bata ayaw mag-give up; sabi namin laro lang, pare, focus, depensa. (We had a chance to win it outright if not for miscommunication in defense that allowed NU to tie it. The boys wouldn't want to give up)," said Oliver.
Joshua Aguilon added 15 points while Jeson Delfinado had a 14-point, 10-rebound effort to complement Pingoy and Domingo.
Raphael Atangan paced the Bullpups with 26 markers, backstopped by Hubert Cani's 19 and Exiquiel Biteng's 17.
Sweep for Lady Tams
The Lady Tams authored the first sweep of the entire basketball season since the institution of the Final Four. University of Santo Tomas previously went unbeaten in the 14-game elims in 1993 and got the outright title as per rules back then. University of the East also swept the elims in 2007 to get automatic berth to the best-of-three finals but lost to La Salle, 0-2.
"Trabaho, dasal saka paniniwala lang sa system. Grabe ang pressure na mag-16-0 (It was a product of hard work, prayers and belief in the system. Pressure to go 16-0 was too much)," said FEU coach Allan Albano, recalling how expectations got higher and higher when the team went 7-0, then 14-0, and when they won the first game of the finals, 64-56.
Camille Sambile dished out a 16-16 effort while season MVP Allana Lim added 15 markers and 12 boards and finals MVP Soc Borja chipped in 14 points, seven assists and four steals to contribute to thrice-to-beat FEU's second straight tiara.
"Sobrang fulfillment kasi for five years, naka-three championships ako. Record pa, 16-0. Ang saya ng exit. (This is a graceful exit for me, third title in five years, record 16-0)," said Borja, who was rewarded with finals MVP plum with averages of 13.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, six assists, three steals and one block.
Trisha Piatos paced the Lady Archers with 16 markers followed by Aracelio Abaca's 12 and Kady Wilson's 10 and 12 boards.
FEU's double championship somehow made up for the Tams' disastrous campaign in the men's division, where they failed to reach the Final Four.
1st game (women's)
FEU 70 - Sambile 16, Lim 15, Borja 14, Soriano 12, Siat 4, Columna 3, Valenzona 2, Gesalan 2, Tanaman 2
DLSU 66 - Piatos 16, Abaca 12, Wilson 10, Ong 9, Viterbo 6, Santos 6, Corcuera 4, Garcia 3, Ong 0, Melendres 0
Quarterscores: 16-21, 33-33, 55-49, 70-66
2nd game (juniors)
FEU 113 - Pingoy 32, R. Domingo 23, Aguilon 15, Delfinado 14, J. Domingo 11, Lee Yu 9, Lumba 6, Completo 3, You 0, Magbuhos 0, Hassan 0, Escoto 0
NU 109 - Atangan 26, Cani 19, Biteng 17, Cauilan 13, Morido 10, Battad 9, Canaynay 7, Lopena 3, Busa 3, Dela Cruz 2, Mosqueda 0, Lapiz 0, Castillo 0, Banawan 0
Quarterscores: 26-21, 46-41, 59-59, 78-78, 89-89, 100-100, 113-109