FAR Eastern University hardly missed Reil Cervantes after someone temporarily filled his shoes and helped the Tamaraws book a semifinals seat in the 73rd University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP).
The trick was immortalized last Saturday when FEU repeated its mastery over sliding University of Santo Tomas, by pulling away in the final canto and crushes the hopes of the gritty Espana-based cagers, 76-67.
Thanks to Smart Gilas national member Aldrech Ramos, who doubled his efforts in the shaded lane to unload a game-high 21 points, hauled 15 rebounds, six assists and two blocks to help FEU notch their ninth victory in 10 starts.
Cervantes was slapped with a one-game suspension last week after committing a clothesline tackle against University of the East star Paul Lee in their overtime triumph on August 15.
"Wala si Reil, kaya kailangan talaga mag step-up. Nag-focus talaga ako na kailangan dagdagan ko pa ang ginagawa ko," said Ramos, the second FEU member to bag the Accel-Filoil UAAP Press Corps Player of the Week award after MVP contender Ryan Roose Garcia.
At the end of the first round last August 8, the fourth year student amassed 58.43 statistical points for a good third place, just six points behind Garcia who is on top of the heap with 64.71 points.
The emphatic win boosted the morale of sixth year mentor Glenn Capacio, who is gunning for the school’s 20th crown in the premiere collegiate league.
"At least we are already here at the Final Four but we should never rest our guards because our aim is to enter the Top 2, get the twice-to-beat bonus. I'm happy that everyone stepped up, especially our big men. But I just hope we'll be consistent," he said.
Ateneo, the back-to-back champion, moved just a game behind FEU with an 8-2 record. Adamson ranked third at 7-3, followed by La Salle at 6-4, which they will be facing on August 28 at the Araneta Coliseum.
Ramos bested Ateneo's American guard Kirk Long, National University's Cameroonian rookie Emmanuel Mbe and University of the East's Kenneth Acibar in the weekly citation also backed by Terrilicious and Gatorade.
As this developed, UAAP commissioner Ato Badolato denied on Wednesday the protest of the University of the Philippines in connection to their controversial 59-61 loss to National University last Sunday.
He said that UP’s contentions were baseless, especially with regards to the supposed goal tending violation made by Cameroonian rookie Emmanuel Mbe on Alvin Padilla’s missed.
Badolato said UP can still appeal the case to the technical committee.
Meantime, the commissioner also announced that referees Glenn Cornelio and Ariel Bermeo were suspended for two playing days for poor officiating during the UP-NU contest.
Padilla, on the other hand, was slapped with a second consecutive suspension due to verbal assaults on game officials
UAAP action resumes Thursday at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City with Ateneo (8-2) gunning for the second Final Four ticket in its 4 p.m. encounter against last year’s losing finalist University of the East, while Adamson hopes to rebound from their bad performance last week in the 2 p.m. curtain raiser against UP. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)