Title beckons Baby Tams

KIRBY Mongcopa catches fire in the crucial stretch to lead FEU-Diliman to an 85-74 win over Adamson University in Game 1 of their Season 85 UAAP high school boys’ basketball tournament best-of-three series. Photo courtesy of UAAP

Far Eastern University-Diliman stepped closer to redemption after pulling off an 85-74 victory over Adamson University in Game 1 of their Season 85 University Athletic Association of the Philippines high school boys’ basketball tournament best-of-three series on Tuesday at the FilOil EcoOil Centre.

Kirby Mongcopa was at his best, dropping a monster output of 20 points and 20 rebounds to lead the Baby Tamaraws to their first title after a seven-year drought.

The last time FEU-D raised the trophy was in 2016 when the backcourt tandem of RJ Abarrientos and Ljay Gonzales dominated a Nazareth School of National University squad that was bannered by Rhyyan Amsali and John Lloyd Clemente.

Still, head coach Larry Albano told his wards that the battle is still far from over.

Game 2 is set on Friday at the same San Juan City venue.

“I told them that our first half isn’t fit for playoff basketball. They were still high on their win in the Final Four (vs NSNU) and it’s a good thing they’re we’re able to do their best,” Albano said.

“I’m still not satisfied in our championship game. We’re not that talented of a team so we have to embrace our defense.”

After a tight battle in the first three quarters, Mongcopa stepped on the gas as he knocked down a three-pointer in the final 6:29 mark to help the Baby Tamaraws transform a slim 60-59 lead into a 69-59 spread.

Then, Luke Felipe scored on a putback in the last 21.4 seconds to give the Baby Tamaraws their biggest lead, 85-71, and the Game 1 victory.

Felipe dropped 14 points behind a six-of-10 shooting for FEU-D while John Rey Pasaol Jeric Daa registered 13 points apiece for the Baby Tamaraws, who finished the double-round eliminations with a 12-2 win-loss record but surrendered the top spot to Adamson after losing in their two meetings.

Peter Rosillo scored 19 points while Carlo Bonzalida had a double-double game of 18 points and 13 rebounds for the Baby Falcons.

Adamson coach Mike Fermin, he was puzzled at his boys’ hesitation to pull the trigger and make smart plays in the second half.

He, however, remains optimistic that they will be able to bounce back on Game 2 in hopes of leveling the series.

“The players were tentative with the ball. In the second half, it’s like our feet got heavier and I don’t know what happened,” Fermin said.

“After Game 1 the boys have gotten some championship experience. Hopefully by Game 2, we can turn things around and get that win.”


FEU-D (85) – Mongcopa 20, Felipe 14, Pasaol 13, Daa 13, Miranda 10, Pre, 8, Cabonillas 7, Salangsang 0, Bautista 0, Pascual 0.

ADAMSON (74) – Rosillo 19, Bonzalida 18, Reyes 15, Edding 9, Medina 6, Abayon 3, Garcia 2, Mepana 2, Sajili 0.

QUARTERS: 23-25, 39-50, 60-59, 85-74.

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