Manila, August 1, 2003 By Abac Cordero (STAR) Denied from the charity lane, Dennis Miranda took it strong to the hoop in the dying seconds last night, helping Far Eastern University prick the growing La Salleís bubble, 74-72, and grab the solo lead in the 66th UAAP season at the Araneta Coliseum.

Miranda, a seasoned quarterback, missed all his six charities in the game, including two in the final minute, but made up for those miscues when he delivered the winning basket. He eluded Marc Cardona and banged in the marginal basket against the taller Mark Benitez with only 16.9 ticks left.

The Archers muffed two attempts at the buzzer.

"It was a play. We called a timeout and called that play," said FEU coach Coy Banal, referring to Mirandaís pivotal move that earned the Tamaraws their fourth win in five outings, their first and only loss this year being inflicted by Santo Tomas only last Saturday.

"We just stayed positive," added Banal after the game where the Tamaraws trailed by as many as 16 points, the last at 30-46 midway in the second quarter. "Maganda itong game na ito. Madami kaming natutunan."

Although it was Miranda who scored the winning basket, it was sophomore Arwind Santos who really made it all possible as the skinny, 6-foot-4 forward came through with 26 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks against the Archers, now in solo second at 3-1.

"Taas kamay ako sa kanya," said Banal of Santos, last yearís top rookie.

Earlier, defending champion Ateneo kept the ball rolling as it drove past Adamson, 70-62, for its third straight victory after back-to-back losses to UE and FEU.

Coach Joel Banal continued to squeeze the best from his starters and is just beginning to get the same from his relievers as the Blue Eagles geared up for its last two games in the first round ó one against UP tomorrow and another against arch rival La Salle on Aug. 9.

"Weíre still trying to lift the game of our reserve players. We know that our starting five can compete against any other starting fives in the league. So, itís our reserves who must raise the level of their game. But I like what Iím getting from them right now," said Banal, referring to Douglas Kramer, Ford Arao and Chris Tiu.

Banal, who is hoping to stretch his string of title victories as a coach, the last one in the recent PBA All-Filipino Cup with Talk N Text, said he canít help but look forward to the game against La Salle, last yearís losing finalist.

"But still, Iím telling my players not to think about that because La Salle is just one of the teams trying to dethrone us. We cannot think of La Salle ahead of Adamson or UP. We must think of our present problems first," he said.

The Falcons put up a good fight but just couldnít muster enough strength that carried them past the Maroons last week. Yesterdayís loss brought Adamson back in the rough with a 1-3 record.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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