FEU shows no fear in 'stacked' UAAP Season 82 competition
MANILA, Philippines – Although Far Eastern University (FEU) head coach Olsen Racela admitted the Tamaraws stand at a disadvantage in this season's loaded competition, their breakthrough win over University of the East (UE) showed they can stay among the strong contenders with some extra work.
"All teams are stacked, they have improved... we lost more [players] this season," said Racela.
"We have to work on our offense, we make up for it through hard work and effort and the game today was an example of that."
FEU entered the season with a young guard rotation after losing veterans JR Parker and Axel Iñigo to graduation, but the Tamaraws can now lean on Ino Comboy and L-Jay Gonzales, who certainly have stepped up on offense.
Comboy waxed hot from beyond the arc, erupting for a total of 24 points off a 9-of-13 clip, while Gonzales chipped in 14 points to go with 8 assists and 8 rebounds.
Thanks to their efforts that came in full show in the payoff period, the Tamaraws denied the Red Warriors' comeback attempts.
"We’re relying on our young core. And like I said, that's our thrust – we’re investing on our young core," added Racela. "[Comboy], he’s one of the veterans of the team. If we have a lot of young players and we only have a few veterans, we really have to rely on our veterans. Especially on our graduating players."
Comboy and Gonzales – whose hot shooting lifted the Tamaraws following a loss to last year's finalist University of the Philippines (UP) on opening day – credit their breakout performances to teammates also motivated to stay in Final Four contention.
"Noong first game namin natalo kami. Parang marami pa kailangan pa namin i-improve. Ilang araw lang yung training namin binuhos namin lahat para [sa larong ito ngayon]," said Gonzales
(When we lost the first game, we thought that there was more to improve. We gave it our all in training for this game)
"Naglaro lang ako ng kung ano hinihingi ng coaches. Tapos 'yung reminders nila pinipiliit kong gawin. Siyempre, sobrang salamat ako sa teammates ko – mga good screens nila, mga pasa nila, sila yung kung bakit ako naka-score nang ganoon," added Comboy.
(I just played based on what the coaches asked me to do and they gave me reminders which I tried my best to do. Of course, I thank my teammates for their good screens, good passes and they're the reason why I was able to score this well today.)
The FEU Tamaraws gear up for another challenge soon as they face defending champion Ateneo Blue Eagles on Saturday, September 14, 4 pm at the Mall of Asia Arena. – Rappler.com