- October 13, 2022 09:34
The Green-and-Gold community has traditionally been blessed with a number of great basketball players. In every era, it is always clear who is the best Tamaraw that Far Eastern University (FEU) has to offer.
From Arwind Santos to Terrence Romeo to the recent title-winning Mac Belo, FEU has never been short of a flagship star to carry the Morayta brand of basketball.
Two games into Season 81, however, FEU is eyed as a legitimate title contender without a clear-cut “best player”. In head coach Olsen Racela’s democratic, pass-happy offense, who emerges as the University’s “King Tamaraw”?
When assessing the team’s top player, the crown comes down to three names: forwards Arvin Tolentino and Kenneth Tuffin, and guard Hubert Cani.
It’s difficult not to make a case for incoming fourth-year big Arvin Tolentino, who, since his transfer from Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU), has made a profound impact for the Tamaraws.
He ranked 9th in scoring in the University Athletics Association of the Philippines (UAAP) last season despite seeing limited minutes in the green-and-gold uniform. His three-point ability makes him a dangerous stretch four for the roster, along with his unusual quickness and unique skill set.
In spite of his talent, however, many are concerned with Tolentino’s consistency, for which he drew a lot of criticism for at the end of FEU’s semifinal game against the Blue Eagles last year. Nevertheless, the graduating forward remains as one of the team’s most dangerous players.
Kenneth Tuffin, on the other hand, is a mature, defensive floor-spacer who has grown as one of the leaders of the team. A member of the prized “23 for 2023 Gilas Cadets” pool along with Tolentino, the Fil-Kiwi is expected by his head coach to fill the defensive void left by Ron Dennison.
Meanwhile, former UAAP Junior’s MVP and Blue Eagle transferee Hubert Cani has taken over the scoring guard role left by former Tamaraw studs Romeo, Mike Tolomia, and Monbert Arong, after a blazing pre-season which saw him catch fire late in the fourth period to carry the Tamaraws to close victories.
If the talented trio weren’t enough to merit the title, expect other FEU stalwarts to chime in on the “best player” hunt: Former UAAP champ Prince Orizu is coming of a monster 25 points-15 rebounds game and looks hungry for more in his final season as a Tamaraw, while guards Jasper Parker and Alec Stockton are already commanding attention from opposing teams.
But for co-captain Tuffin, a “team ace” is not on FEU’s priority list for the season.
“I don’t really think we really talk about that, we really do believe that it’s a team game, so today Arvin is our top scorer, next game it could be Hubert or it could be me, it could be Alec, Axel (Inigo). We really don’t rely on that go-to-guy, that’s the beautiful thing with FEU, it’s all spread out,” the forward reminded after FEU’s opening day win versus the De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Archers.
With a “King Tamaraw” or not, Racela will be sure to have plenty of weapons at his disposal this season, as the tactician continues his second bid at delivering a 21st title for the winningest basketball school in the UAAP.
- John Rafael B. Faustino