The Games that Play Us: Live by the Three, Die by the Three

Jeric Teng's grimace is the new face of UST basketball. Oh, man,
the what-could-have-beens.
(image by Diana Moraleda/

FEU Tamaraws over the UST Growling Tigers, 62-59

Before this game, only one team had been able come back from a deficit at the start of the final quarter to win a game in Season 74. That team was FEU.

And the UST Growling Tigers got the business end of that fact.

For majority of the game, the Tigers seemed poised for a monumental upset. Who would’ve thought that in a game featuring Aldrech Ramos, RR Garcia, JR Cawaling, Terrence Romeo and Jeric Fortuna that Jeric Teng would end up with the highest point total? And who would’ve thought that coach Pido Jarencio’s two Jerics combining for 39 points would still not be enough to unseat coach Bert Flores’s Tamaraws?
The guy to thank for that? None of the household names above.

Rather, it’s newcomer Chris Tolomia.

Chirs Tolomia was the unlikely hero in a heavily-stacked
FEU Tamaraws roster.
(image by Diana Moraleda/
Tolomia scored all of his 10 points in the last 11 minutes of the match, highlighted by the game-winning three with 2.9 ticks to go.

Suddenly, it’s not just Ravena, Parks, Slaughter and Van Opstal on fans’ rookie radar screens.

The key for FEU? Knowing when to turn on the jets. Credit that to experience, the law of averages and maybe a little bit of luck.

The thing that killed UST? The law of averages, bad endgame decisions, and loving the three a little too much.

A classic case of situational irony – the team that shot better from rainbow country (UST at 32% compared to FEU’s 14%) was beaten by a shot from rainbow country by the opposing team. UST, as they always have under coach Pido Jarencio, live by the three, and eventually died because of it.

Can Jeric Fortuna and the rest of the Tigers pick themselves up
after such a stinging defeat?
(image by Justin de Jesus/
But even then disaster could’ve been averted had more intuitive endgame choices been made. Sure, hindsight is 20-20, but just look at two important things – UST no longer had any timeouts in the dying minutes, and the players clearly didn’t know what to do in case things got too close for comfort, hence the bungled inbounds play between the two Jerics that gave Ping Exciminiano an easy deuce.

The result? 40 minutes of hardwork that promised victory, as proven by Chris Camus’s all-around effort, transformed into a deflating and morale-sinking defeat. What could’ve sent the Tigers surging up the standings and power rankings will now weigh heavily on them and cast further doubt on their system. It’s a talented team, that much is for certain, but one big question emerging from the ashes of this match is whether it’s time for the Black & Gold to change mindsets (and brain trusts) or not. In local parlance, saying eh (it’s a waste). And the Tigers’ next foes, Ateneo and UP, will be all too happy to exploit their weaknesses once more.

UST showed star effort throughout the game,
only to fall short at the end.
(image by Diana Moraleda/
And for coach Flores and his Tams? They should pamper Mr. Tolomia. In a game where RR Garcia and Terrence Romeo combined for just 13 points on 4-of-20 FG shooting, Tolomia stepped up and carried the cudgels big time. Because of him, a potentially tragic loss to their cross-town rivals was averted, and this morale-boosting come-from-behind effort will definitely fuel them against UP on Thursday, and the titanic tussle with Ateneo on Sunday.

FEU 62 – Ramos 10, Tolomia 10, Garcia 9, Exciminiano 8, Cawaling 7, Bringas 6, Cruz 6, Romeo 4, Foronda 2, Escoto 0, Fabian 0, Knuttel 0, Sentcheu 0
UST 59 – Teng 23, Fortuna 16, Camus 8, Ferrer 6, Abdul 3, Lo 2, Afuang 1, Pe 0, Tan 0, Vigil 0
QS: 16-15, 21-30, 38-44, 62-59

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