MANILA, Philippines - League-leading Far Eastern University goes all out to sustain its spotless run but expects a dogfight with a National University side determined to convince everyone it can hold its own against the big guns in an interesting UAAP Season 75 men’s basketball encounter at the Smart Araneta Coliseum today.
On a high after a masterful 92-66 rout of University of the East, the Tams gun for Win No. 5 at 4 p.m. against the struggling Bulldogs (2-2) whom FEU coach Bert Flores described as a team abundant in talent, led by last year’s MVP Bobby Ray Parks Jr. and Emmanuel Mbe.
"They have the materials; they even have a new good second import (Henri Betayene) and other new reinforcements," Flores said of NU.
A pre-tournament favorite owing to their showing in the summer leagues, the Bulldogs got off to a blazing start, a 90-55 spanking of University of the East, but dropped two of their next three assignments, including a blowout to Ateneo and a blown game against University of Santo Tomas.
"I know we're struggling now so we have to bounce back," said NU coach Eric Altamirano. "FEU is the team to watch out for so far and they've been playing very well. So we have to come out and be really prepared for that game."
In the 2 p.m. curtain-raiser, five-peat-seeking Ateneo (3-1) shoots for its fourth victory against winless University of the Philippines (0-3).
One major asset of the Bulldogs that concerns Flores is the tenacious work of their frontliners, who are good for 46 rebounds a game (No. 3 in the UAAP) against the Tams' 40 average (No. 7 overall).
"NU is among the top teams in rebounding so our big men need to step up in the battle inside," said Flores.
Four of NU's bigs norm five boards or more – Mbe (8.8), Javillonar (6.8), Denice Villamor (5.8) and Parks (5.3) – while backup center Betayene accounts for 3.2 caroms in 12 minutes on the floor.
In contrast, FEU relies heavily on its starting center, American Anthony Hargrove, who gives them 7.7 rebounds per outing. Guards and top scorers Terrence Romeo and RR Garcia are helping out in rebounding, averaging 6 and 4.8, respectively, while Arvie Bringas (4.5 rpg), Mark Belo (3.3), and Russel Escoto (3) put in less than expected numbers.
Parks, the league's top gunner (20.3 ppg) will be a marked man for FEU defenders led by Roger Pogoy.
"We'll just help one another out trying to contain Parks," said Garcia.