Fatima Quiapo towed Far Eastern University to a knockout game against University of Santo Tomas with a thrilling 48-46 victory in the UAAP Season 82 Women's Basketball Stepladder semis Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena.
The graduating guard fired a career-best 18 points, 13 rebounds, and four steals to extend her collegiate career and the Lady Tamaraws' Finals hopes in the process.
It was an impressive effort from FEU led by its veterans, with Valerie Mamaril adding nine points and five rebounds, Clare Castro tallying eight points, 15 boards, and two blocks, and Choy Bahuyan had eight points, five rebounds, and two assists.
"Sinabi ko na huwag tayo mag-iiyakan. Walo yung gragraduate sa atin at hindi puwedeng mag-iyakan tayo dahil may Game Two pa," said coach Bert Flores.
Staring at a four-point deficit, 43-39 with 7:08 left, the Lady Tamaraws had eight unanswered points to take hold of a 47-43 lead with 1:59 left.
Ruby Portillo kept things interesting with a triple to cut the lead down to one, 47-46, but the Golden Tigresses just wasn't able to convert on their tries in the endgame.
After Mamaril made it a two-point game with a split from the line in the last 7.4 ticks, UST had a chance to tie the game but Grace Irebu's pass to Jeorge Panti was well read by the FEU defense.
Quiapo had a chance to ice the game for good, but he missed both of his charities in the last 0.4 ticks, the last of which was called as a free throw violation that kept the window open for the Golden Tigresses, but just like in the last play, Portillo's alley-oop to Irebu was stopped by Castro as time expired.
"Sabi ko sa kanila, magpa-practice pa ba tayo? Sabi nila, oo!," shared Flores. "Si Clare sabi rin, 'May Sabado pa tayo!'"
Game Two is on Saturday, 12 p.m. at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Portillo led UST with 12 points, five rebounds, five assists, and three steals, while Irebu braved through a right shoulder injury to nab 10 points, 12 boards, and three blocks.
The Golden Tigresses gravely missed the presence of Tacky Tacatac, who played for only two minutes after suffering an apparent right MCL strain, and lost Eka Soriano, who was ejected for incurring two technical fouls, early in the fourth quarter.
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.
Quarterscores: 15-19, 26-30, 35-39, 48-46.PR