By John Carlo Ayende

PHOTO: Rappler

The Far Eastern University Tamaraws overcame a zero-field goal third quarter to stun the De La Salle University Green Archers with a 67-62 squeaker and solidified their UAAP Season 84 Final Four spot at the Mall of Asia Arena today.

The Tamaraws were 3-6 at one point this season, but the Morayta-based squad crawled their way back into the playoff picture as they extended their winning streak to three and improved their record to 6-6.

FEU’s crucial victory also prevented the Green Archers from securing their berth in the Final Four and only trailed the Tamaraws by 1.5 games in the standings, falling to a 7-5 record.

RJ Abarrientos fueled the Tamaraws’ offense in the first half, scoring 13 of his 21 markers in the opening quarter and helping FEU establish an early 16-point advantage, 42-26.

The Green Archers refused to wave the white flag and caught the Tamaraws freezing in the cold, building a 16-0 run to tie the game at 42 apiece via Bright Nwankwo’s dunk late in the third frame.

La Salle’s suffocating defense limited the Tamaraws to a mind-boggling zero made field goals in 13 attempts the entire third quarter and forced them to commit seven turnovers.

FEU overcame that horrible third quarter and kept the game close at 57-apiece before catching fire in the clutch as they buried three triples down the stretch to seal the deal.

“Luckily, in the fourth, we stepped it up defensively and executed on offense. We got the much-needed stops and baskets, and we were also lucky La Salle did not have Winston. We just took advantage of that opportunity,” said FEU head coach Olsen Racela.

Abarrientos, who came off the bench for the Tamaraws, led the team in scoring with 21 while Xyrus Torres added 14. 

On the other hand, Evan Nelle anchored La Salle’s offense with 15 while Justine Baltazar and Kurt Lojera combined for 23 in a losing effort.