Baby Tams coach: team far from championship caliber
The FEU-Diliman Baby Tamaraws' title defense almost went to a disastrous start if it were not for the veteran leadership of LJ Gonzales and Ronjay Abarrientos.
FEU Baby Tamaraws head coach Allan Albano said that the defending champions are still far from being championship caliber after a close shave with De La Salle - Santiago Zobel, 71-67, in their maiden challenge in their title defense at the UAAP Season 80 Junior's Basketball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Centre Saturday.
The Baby Tams, who were only left with seven holdovers and were joined by eight rookies, were almost upset by the Junior Archers after almost squandering a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter, surrendering a 10-3 run to cut FEU-Diliman's lead to three, 67-64 with 3:15 left.
Before the Junior Archers could pounce on the momentum, LJ Gonzales swished a corner triple on the very next possession to extend the lead to six, 70-64.
"Ang [inexperience ang] ikinakaba ko sa team namin... Sa tingin ko, sa first game nila sa UAAP, mangyayari talaga iyon, na mag-memeltdown sila. Pero at least, sa end game nasustain nila," Albano said after the game.
While they almost collapsed completely, the FEU-Diliman tactician praised his veterans Gonzales and Ronjay Abarrientos for taking over the game and providing a calming force for his young squad, inspiring his rookies to do the same and keep their ship afloat.
"Happy ako sa performance nila. At least 'yung mga rookies namin, sina [Rei] Tolentino, [Cedric] Ona, they know how to finish ang mga end-game situation. At least, marunong na sila ng ganoon. Tingin ko, throughout the season, mag-improve pa kami. "