UAAP 80 VOLLEYBALL PREVIEW: FEU Lady Tamaraws
With an intact core, can the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws win it all this year?
Key holdovers: Bernadeth Pons, Jerrili Malabanan, Toni Basas
Key returnees: Rosemarie Vargas
Key losses: Remy Palma
New Far Eastern University head coach George Pascua admitted that the pressure of winning the championship is bigger this year considering that the Lady Tamaraws are fielding an intact core with just one player graduating last season.
Add the return of seasoned commercial league regular Rosemarie Vargas to bring more experience to a team laden with veterans in graduating hitter Bernadeth Pons and reliable scorers Jerrili Malabanan and Toni Basas, FEU has the pieces to end a long title drought.
But Pascua, who replaced Shaq Delos Santos in his return to FEU after coaching the school’s men’s team a few years back, just want his team to take it one game at a time.
“Sa ngayon basta ang target lang namin, Top 4 muna,” he said. “Kasi kapag sinabi mong championship, ang mindset nila, championship.”
“So one at a time ang sabi ko sa kanila, paunti-unti lang hanggang sa ma-reach natin. Ganoon naman ang instructions ko,” added Pascua, who is hoping to steer the Morayta-based squad back in the throne since winning it all in 2008 behind Rachel Anne Daquis. “But every game, ‘Think that this is a championship game. Think, ito na 'yung huling laro mo’. Parang ganun.”
Unfortunately, Vargas, who is making her return after five years of absence, sustained a muscle strain recently and won’t be available at least for the duration of the first round.
Stil, the Lady Tams, who are looking for title no. 30, remain a top title contender.
FEU finished fourth last year but is favored to advance in the semifinals for the fourth straight season.
The Lady Tams finished runner up to National University in the Premier Volleyball League four months ago and trained in Baguio as part of their preparation.
Most of FEU's players also gained experience by joining club teams that competed either in the PVL or the Philippine Superliga.
Aside from bringing in a new system, Pascua took effort to boost the mental strength of his wards to be battle ready when the season starts on February 3 at the MOA Arena.
“Ang unang inayos namin, kaya ang tagal ng team building namin, almost five days, so inuna 'yung more on psychological and emotional aspect nila,” he said. “So meron kaming facilitator na nag-facilitate doon, sports psychology dito sa FEU.”
The Lady Tams will open their season against Ateneo de Manila University on February 4 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
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