MANILA, Philippines -- The Far Eastern University (FEU) Lady Tamaraws are still alive in the UAAP Season 82 women's basketball tournament, after claiming a hard-earned 48-46 victory over University of Santo Tomas (UST) in the stepladder semifinals, Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The fourth-seeded Lady Tams leaned on the clutch heroics of Fatima Quiapo and Choy Bahuyan, as the two veterans took charge in the final five minutes to push FEU to victory.
With the result, the Lady Tams have forced a do-or-die game for the second and last spot in the best-of-3 finals against National University (NU). The decider will be held on Saturday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Quiapo scored a game-high 18 points along with 13 rebounds and four steals, while Bahuyan had 8 points and the final defensive stop on UST center Grace Irebu with four-tenths of a second left.
Irebu was held to just 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting, 11 points below her average. The Season 82 MVP also had 12 rebounds. Ruby Portillo was the only other UST played in double-digits with 12 points, as the Tigresses missed Tacky Tacatac who played just two minutes before exiting with an injury.
"Ang problema namin noong first half, execution," said FEU head coach Bert Flores. "Sabi ko, tiyaga lang. Mashu-shoot din 'yan."
"Hard-earned win siya, at sobrang thankful kami na nanalo kami," said FEU center Clare Castro, who had 15 rebounds.
Down 43-39 with over seven minutes left, the Lady Tams leaned on their veteran players. Quiapo responded by drilling a booming three-pointer with five minutes to go to cut the deficit to one point, and Bahuyan slashed to the hoop to put FEU ahead for good, 44-43, with 4:10 left.
A pair of charities by Castro off an Irebu foul made it 47-43 with two minutes to go, before Portillo knocked down a three-pointer with 55 seconds left to make it a one-point game, 47-46.
But Portillo flubbed a potential go-ahead layup in their next possession, and the Tigresses were forced to foul Val Mamaril who made one of two shots for a 48-46 spread. UST mishandled its next possession, but Quiapo left them an opening when she missed her first free throw attempt, then committed a violation on the second with 0.4 left on the clock.
Bahuyan was there to save the day, tipping off an inbound pass meant for Irebu to seal the victory for the Lady Tamaraws.
"Nakuha namin sa tiyaga," stressed Flores, who has 8 graduating players on his team.
The Lady Tamaraws won despite shooting just 23% from the field, as they had 25 offensive rebounds that led to 16 second chance points.
FEU 48 -- Quiapo 18, Mamaril 9, Bahuyan 8, Castro 8, Delos Santos 2, Jumuad 2, Abat 1, Adriano 0, Antiola 0, Bastatas 0, Vidal 0.
UST 46 -- Portillo 12, Irebu 10, Ferrer 5, Panti 5, Soriano 5, Gandalla 4, Rivera 3, Javier 2, Callangan 0, Sangalang 0, Tacatac 0.
Quarter scores: 15-19, 26-30, 35-39, 48-46
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