From Davao to do-or-die, Ron Dennison makes his last days count for FEU
MANILA, Philippines – Entering his final playing year for the Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws, Ron Dennison probably never envisioned two things happening: how his season would start and how it would end.
A month before the UAAP Season 80 even tipped off, FEU’s defensive stalwart already made headlines as he took a major part in a game-ending pre-season brawl in Davao with players from Season 79 champion De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Archers. In various videos of the incident, Dennison could be seen throwing punches on star guards Ricci Rivero and Kib Montalbo before the non-bearing game was called off.
As fate – or coincidence – would have it, FEU and La Salle would end up squaring off again in the first game of the new season, and Dennison appeared to have turned over a new leaf, helping up fallen Archers after fouls and generally playing cleanly.
However, the most glaring difference he made was not his off-court behavior, but rather his performance on it. Known for years as primarily a low-key but reliable defender, Dennison suddenly showcased his offensive repertoire. Opponents’ scouting reports were thrown out the window as the 6-foot forward burst out with hard drives and pinpoint shooting from beyond the arc. Unfortunately for him and rookie coach Olsen Racela, this vast offensive improvement didn’t translate to early first-round victories, as they fell as far back as 6th in the team standings on the back of multiple heart-wrenchingly close losses.
But Dennison pushed on, proving that his first round outing was no fluke. However, FEU kept falling at the last possible moments, which was by no means his fault. Thankfully for the team, they finally came through at their very last game, sinking Adamson University Soaring Falcons and eliminating the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons from Final 4 contention in the process.
With newfound momentum and a clean slate in the playoffs, the Tamaraws shocked the UAAP world by blowing out the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Blue Eagles, 80-67. Although Ateneo was still reeling off its first loss against La Salle, no team had previously defeated them this season, much less by double-digits. In that crucial game, Dennison once again led the pack with 17 points and other contributions across the board.
Unfortunately, when it mattered most, he ran out of gas. FEU ultimately lost their knockout match against Ateneo in overtime, ending their Cinderella run. The Tamaraws were a shot clock away from the Finals before Dennison ate a pump fake and a game-tying three from the Blue Eagles’ Isaac Go.
Even someone as tough as Ron Dennison couldn’t help but break down in tears with the way he ended his UAAP career. Game after game, the Tamaraws just came up short, despite Dennison giving everything he had. However, in his time of sorrow, he was immediately approached by no less than Tab Baldwin, one of the game’s most decorated and respected coaches. According to Dennison, the Blue Eagles’ head coach told him that he had a bright future ahead.
After all the controversy that surrounded him in the beginning of the season, he ended it in the arms of a world-renowned coach who has earned his respect. Despite the mistakes that dragged him down, he made up for them and then some.
From zero to hero, that is the Ron Dennison story. – Rappler.com