FEU LADY TAMARAWS: Hungry for title no. 30
Mark Escarlote on Feb 01, 2017 06:33 PM
Can Far Eastern University quell a nine-year drought?
Drawing inspiration from their campaign last year, Far Eastern University charges into UAAP Season 79 hungrier and bolder.
The Lady Tamaraws came just three set wins away from a spot in the Finals in Season 78 against eventual champion De La Salle Lady Spikers.
With the experience that their intact core gained last season, this FEU crew could be ripe to end a nine-year title drought.
Top hitters Bernadeth Pons, Toni Basas, Jerili Malabanan, Heather Guino-o and graduating veteran Remy Palma are all back to lead the Lady Tamaraws while playmaker Kyle Negrito is up to the challenge to fill the void left by Gyzelle Sy.
“Motivation namin ‘yung nakapasok kami sa Final Four last year,” said the 21-year-old Palma.
“Sobrang laki talaga noong experience na na-gain namin, lalo na sa akin. Parang last year ko talaga naramdaman na ito pala ang UAAP. Eto ang pakiramdam na ganoon yung feeling na umabot ka ng semifinals, one step na lang, nasa Finals ka na. Pero ayun, siguro hindi talaga para sa amin yung last year, kaya ayun ang dadalhin namin ngayong taon,” she added. “Kung ano yung na-gain namin doon, at dadagdagan pa talaga namin. Kumbaga, andoon na kami sa level na na-gain namin. Ngayon kailangan namin talaga i-polish pa, kung ano ‘yung dapat naming ayusin, dapat pa naming i-improve.”
Focus will also be on Pons, who last year averaged and impressive 15.4 points per game with 33.74% success rate in attacks while chipping in an average of 2.38 digs per set on the defensive end.
But the incoming fourth year player doesn’t want to put too much pressure on herself. She wanted to take it as a challenge.
“Pagdating sa pressure, hindi ko naman siya tine-take as pressure. Palagi ko china-challenge yung sarili ko, kasi pag pinressure ko ang sarili ko, lalo lang na hindi ko mailalabas kung ano ang laro ko,” said Pons, who gave FEU a runnerup finish in beach volleyball in the first semester. “So sabi nga nila coach na sa dami ba naming na-experience, parang kailangan pa ba naming ma-pressure ngayong season?”
FEU joined the V-League during the offseason to polish the team’s chemistry especially with setter Negrito.
But unlike other squads that trained abroad, the Lady Tamaraws had their training camp in Baguio.
“Syempre hindi namin tine-take na disadvantage sa amin na hindi kami (nag-train abroad). Minsan kasi, sinasabi nila, 'Uy, bakit hindi kayo nag-out of the country, sayang naman.' Para sa amin po, syempre hindi kami dapat mainggit na sila na nag-out of the country. Kami, ito yung team na bubuuin namin, kahit saan kami mapunta,” said Palma.
“Minsan kasi nagiging thinking na ganito, pag nag-out of the country - although may experience talaga na mage-gain, syempre iba yung experience ng international, unlike sa pag dito sa bansa,” she added. “Pero para sa amin, ito ‘yung lakas na pinaghirapan namin, kahit saan kami dalhin, kahit dito lang kami sa Pilipinas, eto ‘yung pinaghirapan namin all throughout ng year. Tapos ayun, it's all in the mind naman.”
The Morayta-based squad will also be carrying an added motivation heading into the season after FEU honored former Queen Tamaraw Rachel Anne Daquis last Tuesday by having her no. 3 jersey retired.
Daquis led the Lady Tamaraws to its last championship back in Season 70 – a feat the current FEU players wanted to give to the school this year in their drive for title no. 30.
“Inspiration siya para sa amin kasi ayun nga, sobrang tagal na noong nag-champion sila doon, ilang years na, hindi pa rin nagcha-champion ang FEU,” said Pons. “’Yun ‘yung magiging motivation ng bawat isa sa amin.”
The Lady Tamaraws will get an early rematch with De La Salle on February 5 at the Big Dome.
Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles