UAAP S77 Preview: Far Eastern University Tamaraws
Season 76 record: 10-4 (3rd)
Season 76 recap:
FEU roared out of the gate in Season 76, winning their first seven games of the season with Terrence Romeo establishing himself as an MVP candidate. But they stumbled in the second round, notching only a 3-4 record, and were the third seed in the Final Four, where they lost in only one game to eventual champions De La Salle.
Losses: RR Garcia, Terrence Romeo, Gryann Mendoza, Christian Sentcheu, Joshua Aguilon, Jovannie Luz
Holdovers: Mike Tolomia, Mac Belo, Roger Pogoy, Carl Bryan Cruz, Anthony Hargrove, Achie Iñigo, Raymar Jose, Jeson Delfinado, Ron Dennison, Joel Lee Yu
Acquisitions: Russell Escoto, Francis Tamsi, Reeve Ugsang, Richard Escoto, Gus Denila, Jason David, Arnie Padilla, Billy Joe Belga
Season 77 Projection:
The FEU Tamaraws may have lost two of the best guards in collegiate basketball when RR Garcia and Terrence Romeo took their talents to the PBA, but they still have a strong line-up that will be boosted by the return of Russell Escoto, now back to a hundred percent after suffering an injury.
Moreover, Mike Tolomia – who often played in the shadows of Garcia and Romeo in previous seasons – has shown that he is ready to take more of a leadership role, while big man Mac Belo has also shown that he is recognizing more and more of his immense potential. Other players like Roger Pogoy, Carl Bryan Cruz and Anthony Hargrove are expected to do more on offense this time after mostly focusing on defense in the past seasons.
The Tamaraws are also more comfortable with the dribble-drive offense installed by head coach Nash Racela, and the players are expecting for the ball to move a lot more now that their two ball-dominant point guards have graduated. Veteran players like Cruz and Tolomia also insist that the Tamaraws as a team are closer this year, after admitting that there were some off-court issues that affected them last season.
FEU will remain one of the league’s most competitive teams even without Garcia and Romeo, though it will take an even stronger effort than last year’s for them to make it to the Final Four. They will likely be a less predictable team without the two, though do not be surprised if Tolomia quickly establishes himself as the Tams’ go-to guy in their place.
Quote: “Ine-expect ko na mas maganda ‘ynug team namin. Marami na rin nagsabi na mas maganda raw ‘yung takbo ngayon, unlike last year. So ine-expect ko na mas malakas kami ngayon, unlike last year, at mas nag-mature na rin ‘yung mga iba sa amin.” – FEU guard Carl Bryan Cruz.