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Romeo, Garcia combine for 41 as Tams stifle Red Warriors in season opener

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Romeo, Garcia combine for 41 as Tams stifle Red Warriors in season opener

Post by Admin 18 on Sat Jun 29, 2013 4:05 pm

Terrence Romeo and RR Garcia combined for 41 points as the Far Eastern University Tamaraws stifled the University of the East Red Warriors in the second half, for an 89-78 victory in the opening game of UAAP Season 76, Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The Tamaraws shook off a slow first quarter before hitting their stride in the second half. FEU launched a 19-8 blitz spanning the two latter quarters to give them their first double-digit lead early in the fourth, 69-58. The backcourt duo of Terrence Romeo and RR Garcia maintained their lead with incredible plays down the stretch, guiding the overlooked Tamaraws to a win against their opponents, who were touted as Final Four contenders following a triumphant FilOil preseason campaign.

Romeo was the best player of the game, flirting with a triple-double after posting 23 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds. RR Garcia aded 18 markers, while Anthony Hargrove and Mac Belo added 11 and 10 points respectively, and combined for 13 boards.

Romeo deferred credit to head coach Nash Racela and his gameplan, saying he did his best to get his teammates involved in the offense. "Nung sinimulan ko silang i-involve, lumuwang yung depensa sakin saka ako naka-diskarte," he said.

"We reminded the boys to be patient," said Racela, on how his team was able to come back. "We struggled, we played their game in the first half, yet we were only down by five points. I'm happy that they trusted me."

Racela also addressed the fact that Romeo started while fifth year star Garcia came off the bench, a coaching move that raised some eyebrows. "That's one thing we made clear with our players that they're not entitled to anything," Racela said.

The coach added that he talked to Garcia about his philosophy and said that the latter responded well. "Ang importante ay they work for it, and they trust their coaches kung anong plano nila during the game."

While most observers doubted FEU before the start of the season, Racela said that he's fine with flying under the radar. He added that smaller teams like his aren't necessarily worse in this league, comparing FEU to the Ateneo Blue Eagles in that regard.

"Ang nakakatakot sa Ateneo is the culture they have and the one-ness they have. Yun ang nagdadala sa kanila," he said, adding that he hoped it was something replicable in his circumstances.

Both teams tested the waters in the first quarter, taking several shots from the perimeter. The Warriors gained the advantage after JM Noble connected from deep, and Chris Javier converted twice beneath the basket to give them a 7-2 lead.

The Tamaraws called for time to bring RR Garcia off the bench with six minutes to play, but the former MVP's talents did little to stem UE's attack. Led by Roi Sumang, the Warriors made cut the lane for easy points. In contrast, FEU struggled with only one basket in the paint, a hook shot by Christian Sentcheu with around 20 seconds left, as they fell behind after the first period, 21-11.

FEU drew Charles Mammie's third foul at the 7:30 mark during the second quarter, forcing him to sit. However, they couldn't quite capitalize on the absence of the Warriors' center. However, the Tams were able to shore up on defense, forcing UE into several stops for fast break makes by Garcia and Bryan Cruz, 26-20.

UE recovered as Ivan Hernandez and Ralf Olivarez converted lay-ups, and Hargrove received an unsportsmanlike foul for raising his elbow to Olivarez' jaw after the latter fouled him in transition at 3:25. Both players made their charities, reinstating a double-digit lead for the Warriors, 32-22.

The Tamaraws closed the last two minutes and a half with a 10-5 run, boosted by triples from Romeo, Mac Belo and Mike Tolomia to trim the gap to 37-32 at halftime.

FEU shot 12-of-37 (32.4 percent) from the field in the first half, while UE was 13-of-39 (33.3 percent). While the Tams led 10-5 in turnover points, the Warriors had a 12-6 offensive rebounding advantage, though they produced just a 6-0 lead in second-chance points.

RR Garcia (R) finds a crease in the UE defense for a pass. KC Cruz

The Tamaraws continued to rage on in the third quarter as they freed themselves with shots inside the arc. FEU clamped down defensively for quick shots on the other end, as Romeo and Hargrove combined for eight to nudge their team ahead, 42-40.

Sumang drained a triple to quell the storm for a while, and the advantage slowly shifted to the Warriors. UE trooped to the line, including charities after Garcia was called for an unsportsmanlike foul on Lord Casajeros on a drive, 46-42.

The Warriors, however, couldn't break away after conceding lay-ups to Carl Bryan Cruz and Tolomia, and their shoddy free-throw shooting over the next few minutes allowed FEU to tie the game, 50-50, on a mid-range jumper by Hargrove, with under four minutes to play.

Similar to the previous quarter, the Tamaraws pounced during the last three minutes of the period. Hargrove and Romeo canned and-one plays, and the latter threw in another triple to combine for nine points in a closing 11-4 rally. For the first time in the game, the Tams led at the end of a quarter, 61-54.

UE had little chance to recover as the Tamaraws made big play after big play to open the final period. Impressive drives by Roger Pogoy and Garcia sandwiched a triple by Tolomia, granting them their first double-digit lead of the game, 69-58.

As time wound down, the Tams looked to Romeo and Garcia to deliver them to the finish line. The duo benefited from good ball movement, scoring their next 11 markers. The Warriors' role players refused to budge though, and stepped-up for a shackled Sumang. Gino Jumao-as plunged into the lane, and Lord Casajeros drilled a couple of treys, 80-71, with three minutes remaining.

However, the Warriors did themselves in, as FEU feasted on turnovers and sluggish transition defense. The Tams' backcourt went cherry-picking with an 8-2 run, creating a 15-point gap with a minute and a half to play, 88-73.

FEU improved to 21-of-36 (58.3 percent) field goal shooting in the second half for a 33-of-73 (45.2 percent) clip at the end. Meanwhile, the Warriors were 12-of-35 (34.3 percent) in the second half to finish 25-of-74 (33.8 percent) overall.

The Tams also sizzled from beyond the arc, making 9-of-28 shots (32.1 percent) in contrast to UE's 6-of-26 (23.1 percent). On the other hand, UE led in charity makes, converting 22-of-33 (66.7 percent) versus FEU's 14-of-19 (73.7).

The Tamaraws led in fast break points (17-7) and in turnover points (24-10) despite having just one less turnover than UE (19-18).

Roi Sumang led UE with 22 points, five rebounds and three steals on just 6-of-18 shooting from the field. Ralf Olivares was the only other Warrior in double figures with 17 points. Charles Mammie hauled 12 rebounds in his UAAP debut, but was held to seven points on 2-of-6 shooting. - RAF, GMA News

The scores:

FEU 89: Romeo 23, Garcia 18, Hargrove 11, Belo 10, Tolomia 8, Cruz 8, Pogoy 7, Sentcheu 2, Mendoza 2, Jose 0

UE 78: Sumang 22, Olivares 17, Casajeros 8, Noble 7, Mammie 7, Javier 4, Hernandez 4, Sumido 3, Santos 3, Jumao-as 3, Flores 0

Quarter scoring: 11-21, 32-37, 61-54, 89-78

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