ISAAC Go’s nose bled in the last four minutes following a wayward elbow from Prince Orizu in a rebound battle.
When the bleeding stopped, he made up for his momentary absence in the final second of overtime with a defensive play that lifted the Ateneo Blue Eagles to 69-68 overtime triumph over the defending champion Far Eastern University Tamaraws Wednesday night at the Araneta Coliseum.
The 6’7” Go put his big hands in front of Ron Dennison as he was making an attempt off Monbert Arong’s pass from outside the paint.
Dennison released the ball too late and this kept members of the Tams from handing their coach Nash Racela a fitting present on his 45th birthday.
The basket went in but after the buzzer sounded and the Blue Eagles found themselves in the finals of the 79th University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball tournament against arch-rival La Salle.
Their epic, dream finale begins on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The last time the Green Archers and the Blue Eagles faced each other in a championship was in 2008.
Go was accidentally elbowed by Orizu in the nose in the last 3:30, and he bled profusely afterwards.
He had 14 rebounds and 12 points, including a putback off Matt Nieto’s miss in the last 1:24, which proved to be the winning basket for the Blue Eagles who went on to grab a one-point lead in the closing minutes.
After that, Ateneo forced FEU to two turnovers, the last off Axel Inigo’s miss triple.
Thirdy Ravena, who had 13 points with Nieto, tried to penetrate in the last 4.5 seconds. But he slipped and turned the ball over, giving gave FEU a final chance to score in the remaining time.
But Go sprinted back on defense to distract Dennison, causing the FEU guard to fumble and miss beating the game clock by a split second.
“Shot went down. I don’t think you can separate these two teams with a sledgehammer and a crowbar. We were that close. We made the last shot, they made the last shot. But it was half a second too late,” said Blue Eagles coach Tab Baldwin.
FEU, with Arong making 15 points, forced the extra period when he drove in off Nieto in the last 37.8 of regulation, 66-all.
Ateneo could have scored the winning basket in the regulation. But Reymar Jose cleared the ball away following a missed attempt by Ravena.
(Game 1 at the Mall of Asia Arena)
11 a.m. – NU vs DLSU
(Women’s Game 1)
3:30 p.m. Ateneo vs La Salle
(Men’s Game 1)
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