- September 04, 2020 12:26
After ending their title drought last year, can the Far Eastern University Men’s Basketball Team (FEUMBT) still defend their golden crown? What are their chances? How will they adjust without last year’s best players? Can they still retain their position as the top dogs of the league? Is the upcoming season a start of the dark ages for the Tamaraws or a new beginning to charge again?
FEUMBT bagged the championship title in University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 78, defeating the top seed University of Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers in game 3 of the finals. The Tamaraws are considered for years as the benchmark of the league due to the fact that they are the winningest team in the league with 20 championship titles.
Some say that this lineup of Coach Nash Racela is unexperienced due to the lack of veterans in their team, but this team has competed in three different tournaments in the off-season. First, they won the championship title in Philippine Collegiate Champions League (PCCL) and were in the quarterfinals last Filoil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup, and lastly, when they became champions in a collegiate invitational basketball tournament in Bayugan City, Agusan Del Sur. And just to add to these tournaments, they played tune up games this summer.
People may be asking who will be the go to guy or the players that can replace the spot of last year’s ace and veterans.
One of the most experienced in the team is Monbert Arong, he is on his 5th year of wearing the green and gold jersey. After his performance last Fil Oil Cup, Arong proves that he is one of the players that the Tamaraws can rely on in playing the game.
Another one is Raymar Jose, after playing in the national team that won the championship in the Southeast Asia Basketball Association (SEABA), it shows that he can bring confidence and experience to the team. His presence in the court will be a huge help for the team in offense and defense. In fact, Jose averaged 8.8 rebounds per game last UAAP season, definitely a guy who can crash the boards for them.
Filipino-Norwegians Steve and Ken Holmqvist can bring the X-factor to the team after impressing a lot of people by their performance from their previous tournaments. K. Holmqvist is making his name for himself by being part of the national team in SEABA and has also been awarded the Most Valuable Player (MVP) last PCCL.
“He is getting better, he is now learning the Philippine brand of basketball. Slowly he is making his adjustment, hopefully again by September he will be a really good player,” Coach Nash said about his insights on K. Holmqvist.
Some players remained in the team like Richard Escoto that will play at the wing position and can also give the team some outside shots. Guards like Axel Iñigo, Wendell Comboy III, and Ron Dennison can also bring an A game by being the court general of the team. Front men Kevin Barkley Eboña and Prince Orizu are the players that can bring boards and defensive stops.
The lineup of FEUMBT is not yet final, it is not sure if there will be new additions to the team or if some players may return. It is still a question to the FEU community if the last season finals MVP Mark Belo and wingmen Russel Escoto will play another year for the green and gold team.
“Nagbi-build pa lang kami, marami pa kami na kulang na kailangan i-improve pero medyo okay na naman ngayon kasi medyo maganda na ‘yung samahan (We are rebuilding, there are a some things that we need to improve, but now it is okay because our relationship with one another in the team is good,)” Jose quoted.
Non-stop training and development has been done by FEU throughout the summer in order to match the people’s expectations and also to defend their throne as the champions of the league.
“Kailangan talaga namin magtrabaho ngayon, maraming players ang nag-graduate sa amin kaya kailangan namin mag-work hard pa para maabot ‘yung goal na last year na nakuha namin. (We really need to work, there are a lot of our players that graduated, so we really need to work hard in order to achieve the goal that we already got last year),” Jose commented.
“Mahirap naman na defending champions kami tapos ngayon season wala kaming maaabot (It's odd that we are the defending champions, then we will not achieve anything this season),” he added.
Definitely a new system, new names, and a new brand of Tamaraws will be seen for the upcoming UAAP Season 79 Basketball Tournament. As of now, The Morayta based cagers are still rebuilding as a team, charging themselves before the season starts and preparing to defend their throne as the champions of the league.
- Rupert Bhetz Marcelo