UAAP: Torres sinks game-winner as FEU outlasts NU in thriller

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 21 2022 02:49 PM | Updated as of Apr 21 2022 03:26 PM

FEU's Xyrus Torres puts up a jump shot against National U in their UAAP Season 84 second round game. UAAP Media.
FEU's Xyrus Torres puts up a jump shot against National U in their UAAP Season 84 second round game. UAAP Media.

MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) Far Eastern University (FEU) snapped a three-game skid in thrilling fashion, rallying past National University (NU) for a 59-57 triumph on Thursday afternoon at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Xyrus Torres sank the game-winning three-pointer with just 2.2 seconds to go, completing the Tamaraws' comeback from as much as 14 points down. FEU outscored the Bulldogs, 19-8, in the final period to snatch the victory.

FEU won for just the fourth time in Season 84, boosting their hopes of advancing to the Final 4. At 4-6, they are now tied for fourth place with the Bulldogs who slumped to a third consecutive defeat.

Torres scored 16 points, while Emmanuel Ojuola earned Player of the Game honors as he put up 11 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, two steals, and two blocks in a superb all-around performance. The Tamaraws won despite a poor offensive performance from guards RJ Abarrientos and LJay Gonzales, who combined for just 10 points on 3-of-19 shooting.

"We really needed this win kasi NU ang hinahabol namin," FEU coach Olsen Racela said after the game. "I'm just so proud of the way we played today. We did not give up, especially in the second half."

"They stuck to the system, they trusted the coaches, we trusted them. LJ trusted Xyrus with that three-pointer. It was all about trust for us," he added.

The Bulldogs seized control of the game in the second quarter, pouncing on FEU's turnovers to score easy points en route to a 33-23 advantage at the half. The Tamaraws were able to trim the deficit to nine points, 49-40, heading into the final period.

FEU ramped up its intensity on defense in the fourth quarter, forcing the Bulldogs into tough misses. An 18-5 run allowed the Tamaraws to surge ahead, 55-54, with 1:54 to play after NU's Issa Gaye was called for a goaltend on an Ojuola layup.

A layup by Michael Malonzo -- NU's first field goal of the fourth quarter -- along with a bonus free throw gave the Bulldogs their last lead, 57-55, with 37.7 seconds to play. FEU stayed alive after Gonzales drew a foul on Gaye in their next possession, and he split his free throws with 26.1 seconds left for a 57-56 count.

Off a timeout, the Tamaraws forced a turnover against NU with Ojuola coming up with the possession. Torres put up a hurried three-pointer that missed its mark, but Gonzales was there to come up with the offensive rebound. He found Torres wide open from beyond the arc, and this time Torres made sure to knock down the game-winner.

"Sabi nga ni coach, nag-trust lang kami sa isa't isa," said Torres. "Pati mga coaches, nag-trust lang sa akin."

NU still had one more chance with 2.2 seconds left, but John Lloyd Clemente's heave from three-point range was well off the mark as time expired. 

Clemente had 13 points to lead the Bulldogs, while Shaun Ildefonso contributed nine points. NU committed 19 turnovers, none bigger than the last one that led to Torres' go-ahead three-pointer. 

The scores:

FEU 59 -- Torres 16, Ojuola 11, Sandagon 10, Gonzales 7, Tempra 4, Sleat 3, Abarrientos 3, Bienes 2, Alforque 2, Li 1, Celzo 0, Sajonia 0.

NU 57 -- Clemente 13, Ildefonso 9, Joson 8, Minerva 6, Malonzo 5, Felicilda 5, Torres 3, Figueroa 2, Gaye 2, Mahinay 2, Manansala 2, Yu 0, Enriquez 0.

Quarters: 14-15, 22-33, 40-49, 59-57.