- January 23, 2023 07:59
By Joaquin Luis E. Quesada
The Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws punched their ticket to their seventh straight Final Four appearance after trouncing the University of the East (UE) Red Warriors, 82-58, in the second round of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) season 82 men’s basketball tourney, October 27 at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
Amidst the pre-season doubts and criticisms, FEU made another historic campaign by clinching its Final Four appearance for seven straight years, the longest active streak recorded in the tourney.
With no hype and spotlight on his rookie-laden team, FEU head coach Olsen Racela admitted that no one believed in his roster to enter the semis except for the members of their inner-circle who had their back all throughout the tight race.
“Who would’ve thought? Walang naniwala sa amin (No one believed in us), but except ‘yung mga nandoon sa loob ng circle namin (the people inside of our circle), and of course [the] FEU community,” Racela expressed.
Both teams answered back-and-forth in the opening period before FEU splashed four treys, including the buzzer beater of Wendell Comboy from beyond the arc to give them a 40-26 lead at the half.
Moreover, the Morayta dribblers came out of the dugout to unleash again four treys, giving them a double-digit lead in the third canto, 57-42. Tamaraws pumped up their lead as much as 24 points in the final frame to close the game at 82-58.
Their main focus was to stop the two big names donning the red-and-white colors – Rey Suerte and Alex Diakhite.
“Ang focus namin (Our focus was) really was two things – Diakhete sa loob, Suerte sa labas (Diakhite inside and Suerte outside)”, Racela shared.
He then added, “Sinasabi ko palagi (I always tell them), it’s not about Patrick [Tchuente] vs Diakhete or Alec [Stockton] vs Suerte. [It’s] these two guys versus the whole FEU team.”
Comboy led the Tams, scoring 17 points with 5-for-7 from downtown. L-Jay Gonzales had his double-double performance of 12 points and 10 boards, while rookie Royce Alforque chipped in 13 markers on an efficient 6-of-8 shooting from the field.
The Racela-mentored squad finished the elimination round with an 8-6 win-loss card tied with University of Santo Tomas (UST), but FEU landed at the third spot because of holding a superior quotient over the España dribblers.
“We’re not done yet,” Racela ended.
The format of the Final Four frame is yet to be decided as the defending champion Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU) will have its remaining game against the University of the Philippines (UP) this Wednesday, October 30 at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena in Pasay City.
(See full album: UAAP 82 Men's Basketball Round 2 - FEU vs UE)