UE's Arafat Moustapha slams the ball after an alley-oop play from Roi Sumang. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines – The Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws will target their second straight victory and third overall when they play the always-dangerous University of the East (UE) Red Warriors in the UAAP Season 77 men's basketball tournament Wednesday afternoon at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
The Tamaraws are coming off an 85-71 victory over the UP Fighting Maroons, while the Red Warriors just suffered their first loss of the season, a 58-60 reversal at the hands of the defending champions La Salle.
FEU coach Nash Racela is wary of the Red Warriors, however, especially because of their two imports, Moustapha Arafat and Charles Mammie.
"Mammie is capable of dominating inside, and Arafat is very active at both ends," said Racela after their win against UP. "I consider them super imports."
UE plays with a foreign big man inside the court at all times, and Arafat's and Mammie's different skill sets give the Red Warriors a different look. To make things more difficult for their opponents, they are now backed up by solid local players, Racela noted.
"Ang galing ng mga players ng UE. They can shoot from the outside, plus there is the leadership of (Roi) Sumang," said Racela. "So medyo mabigat para sa amin, especially since sunod-sunod 'yung games namin."
The Tamaraws may have gained some pointers from the Green Archers, who were able to out-execute the Red Warriors down the stretch to notch the victory.
La Salle beat UE despite committing 36 turnovers, something that Racela is concerned about because the Tamaraws turned the ball over 19 times against the Fighting Maroons.
"The target is really around mga 12 (turnovers) lang every ball game," he said.
Another concern for Racela is the fast pace of the Red Warriors.
"I hope we could handle that, and also that we could counter that," he said. "The good thing siguro when you play UE – they're a very quick team, but we want to believe that we are also a quick team."
"It's either mag-pabilisan kami or kontrahin namin," Racela added. "We'll see."
UE's Mammie, for his part, said the setback against La Salle was just "a one game loss."
"We just have to get back and look forward to our next game," he said.