By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The Far Eastern University (FEU)-Diliman is on the verge of winning its first UAAP high school basketball boys’ championship title in six seasons after defeating Adamson University, 85-74, in Game 1 of the Season 85 finals last March 14, 2023, held at the FilOil EcoOil Centre.
FEU is yet to return to the UAAP HS Boys’ pedestal since winning their last championship trophy during Season 79.
However, it wasn’t easy for the Baby Tamaraws after Adamson waxed hot from the get-go, opening an 11-point lead heading into the second half.
The Baby Falcons’ crisp ball movement opened up tons of wide-open shots from the perimeter and in the three-point line which they capitalized.
Despite a huge second quarter from the Baby Tamaraws after bullying Adamson in the shaded lane, the Baby Falcons were able to regain momentum in the last 1:30 and drained their floaters at will.
Needing someone to embrace the challenge and wake up the FEU crowd, Kirby Mongcopa answered the call and went unconscious at the most perfect time in the last two quarters.
Mongcopa spearheaded FEU’s huge run in the first four minutes of the last canto including a huge trey that ballooned their lead to 10 points, 69-59.
After FEU was back in the driver’s seat, Adamson failed to regain their shooting touch in the first half and also collapsed defensively.
FEU’s huge second-half adjustment also propelled them to the huge win after staying away from the paint-oriented attack that made them predictable in the first half.
Mongcopa led the Baby Tamaraws with 20 points and eight assists while Peter Rosillo chipped in 19 points, five rebounds, and four assists.
“Yung first na nilaro namin, hindi pang-playoffs eh. Yun ang sinabi ko sa kanila sa halftime na maglaro kami na pang-playoff. Feeling ko ramdam nila yung panalo nila noong Final Four,” said FEU-D head coach Allan Albano.