UAAP: Intact FEU fueled by last year's close loss to Ateneo
Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Sep 04, 2018 07:19 PM
FEU still hasn't forgotten that they were oh so close to downing twice-to-beat Ateneo
HOW’D THEY DO LAST SEASON? 7-7, lost to Ateneo in Final Four
YES, THEY’RE STILL HERE: Hubert Cani, Wendell Comboy, Richard Escoto, Axel Inigo, Prince Orizu, Jasper Parker, Arvin Tolentino, Ken Tuffin
WELCOME TO THE FAMILY: L-Jay Gonzales, Clifford Jopia
GOOD LUCK ON FUTURE ENDEAVORS: Ron Dennison
WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT FROM FEU?
Far Eastern University is mostly intact – with steady guards Hubert Cani, Wendell Comboy, Axel Inigo, and Jasper Parker all back; tireless forwards Russell Escoto, Arvin Tolentino, and Ken Tuffin all returning; and Cameroonian center Prince Orizu all ready and raring for his last go-round.
Don’t forget that core was one turnover away from taking down eventual champion Ateneo de Manila University a season ago.
Yes, that core was good enough to discard the Blue Eagles’ twice-to-beat advantage and then grant their team an eight-point cushion in the last six of the do-or-die Game 2 of the semifinals – and if not for Isaac Go’s heroics, we would have had a different champion.
“Yung learning from that experience last year, it’s going to be a motivation for us.” – head coach Olsen Racela
The hope now is that core builds on that and barges into the new season with the same strong showing.
A big leadership hole needs to be filled for the Tamaraws, however, as Ron Dennison is no longer there to serve as the pacesetter in terms of effort and energy.
“Malaki rin yung nawala sa aming veterans so right now, we’re trying to develop guys who will take their roles.” – head coach Olsen Racela
WHO IS/ARE THE PLAYER/S TO WATCH OUT FOR FROM FEU?
As has been FEU tradition, expect nothing less than continued development from up and down the Tamaraws roster.
In particular, shifty playmaker Parker is primed to take total control of the steering wheel under the guidance of head coach, and legendary point guard, Olsen Racela.
“Since ako, I’m a point guard myself, binibigay ko talaga yung responsibility sa point guards when it comes to leading the team.” – head coach Olsen Racela
And for sure, stretch big Tolentino is only hungry to bounce back after his disastrous end to last season.
As for the rookies, L-Jay Gonzales and Clifford Jopia are as young as they come, but after all, this will just be a season for their adjustment. Sooner than later, know that Gonzales, described as Russell Westbrook-like, will be the next in line of those great guards from FEU.
WHY SHOULD WE ROOT FOR FEU?
Again, FEU was one turnover away from taking down eventual champion Ateneo.
If only that final play in regulation in the do-or-die Game 2 of the semifinals was executed better, the Tamaraws would have charged into the Finals and who knows – they could have also toppled Ben Mbala and De La Salle University.
That same squad is still what we’ll see this season and, who knows, things might just go their way this time around.
“Yung FEU community naman, they expect us to give our all and give our 100 percent in everything we do. I think the results will follow as long as we put in the effort and five our 100 percent.” – head coach Olsen Racela
WHERE WOULD FEU BE AT THE END OF UAAP SEASON 81?
FEU will not be assured of a playoff berth – but they will go all-out to make sure they will be back there.
Among the Final Four teams from a year ago, the Tamaraws and the Green Archers’ seats have to be the hottest – because the University of the Philippines and National University are coming for them.
That doesn’t mean, however, that FEU will just give away its seat that easily. If they play at the level they played against Ateneo in the semifinals last season, then a Finals berth this year also isn’t out of the question.
WHEN IS FEU’S FIRST GAME IN UAAP SEASON 81?
There is no time to waste for FEU as they have a shot at a statement win right out of the gates when they are pitted against runner-up La Salle on September 8.
Of course, It All Begins Here on S+A, S+A HD, LIGA, LIGA HD, and livestream.
Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.