UAAP Season 82: FEU Lady Tamaraws keeping the faith alive
Mark Escarlote on Feb 10, 2020 01:34 PM
(Photo: Richard Esguerra)
Far Eastern University faces a tall order of maintaining its status as one of the perennial title contenders this UAAP Season 82 women’s volleyball tournament.
Head coach George Pascua acknowledges the weight of the departure of seasoned veterans after their campaign last year and the unexpected exodus of some key pieces during the offseason.
FEU, which closed the elims last year with a 9-5 slate, saw the exit of skipper Jerrili Malabanan, Heather Guino-o and setter Kyle Negrito. Also leaving the Lady Tams were Celine Domingo, France Ronquillo, libero Angelica Bautista and Carly Hernandez because of personal reasons.
It will be an uphill climb but Pascua remains in high spirits with the current crop of the Lady Tamaraws, who are looking to improve from their fourth place finish last year.
“Maraming nawala sa team namin pero ang difference nu’n experience lang siguro kasi mas beterano,” said Pascua, whose squad came a win away from a second straight Finals appearance. “Pero skills-wise nandoon naman, naa-achieve naman namin.”
But Pascua admits that it’s not easy to prepare a rebuilding team heading into a very competitive season.
“Hindi siya ganun kadali,” said Pascua. “’Yung chemistry ng team, though maraming new players, ang dami mong kino-consider diyan na pinag-aaralan like ‘yung skills, character and siyempre kailangan motivated sila sa ginagawa nila.”
“Then ‘yung system kailangan ma-adapt nila,” he added. “Ngayon naa-achieve na namin, 85 percent, konti na lang meron pang ii-improve.”
The Lady Tams will rely heavily on graduating players Gel Cayuna and libero Buding Duremdes to lead the team together with key returnees Jeanette Villareal, Czarina Carandang and Ivana Agudo.
“Of course ‘yung mga seniors namin like si Buding kailangan yung last playing year n’ya ibibigay namin sa kanya yung opportunity,” said Pascua. “’Yung goal ng bawat isa is ma-achieve namin. Of course, si Angel din malaking bagay yung tandem nu’ng dalawa.”
But what keeps a rebuilding FEU squad still a team to watch for is the return of sophomore Lycha Ebon and the introduction to the UAAP of rookie Shiela Kiseo.
Ebon is back after recovering from a right knee injury that abruptly ended her debut season while Kiseo had a promising stint in the PVL Collegiate Conference.
Pascua right now wants the Lady Tams to focus on a modest goal of reaching the Final Four first.
“This season yung top four muna importante ma-achieve muna namin yun,” he said. Then let’s see kung ano ‘yung mangyayari pagdating doon. Looking forward kami sa goal namin.”
EYES ON YOU:
There are still doubts if Lycha Ebon will return this season with the same explosiveness she had during her rookie year after recovering from a knee injury.
Considering that Ebon just joined FEU’s training just last month, the sophomore may need a little more time to get back in her old form.
In fact, Ebon accepts the decision of the coaching staff to limit her minutes at least in the first round.
“Ang sa akin lang po, simula dati gusto ko lang tumulong sa team ko, gan'un,” she said. “Ngayon na hindi naman ako starting six, ang akin lang ay quality. Hindi naman po sila nage-expect na mag boom ako kaagad, ang sinasabi lang nila na 'Gusto lang namin na makatulong ka sa team'.”
But for sure, it won't take long for the FEU faithful to once again see the future Lady Tams star rise.
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