UAAP: Tamaraws to bank on heart, hunger against NU, says FEU coach

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 11 2019 06:01 AM

UAAP: Tamaraws to bank on heart, hunger against NU, says FEU coach 1
The FEU Tamaraws are headed to the finals for the first time since Season 75. Arvin Lim, ABS-CBN Sports

MANILA, Philippines—Far Eastern University (FEU) coach Rey Diaz is well aware that the Tamaraws are at a physical disadvantage against National University in the finals of the UAAP Season 81 men's volleyball tournament.

FEU, traditionally a UAAP volleyball powerhouse, advanced to the men's title series for the first time since Season 75 after ousting Ateneo in the final 4. Meanwhile, NU is making its 7th consecutive trip to the championship round.

NU coach Dante Alinsunurin predicted that it will be a close series, especially as the two squads split their elimination round meeting. FEU remains the only team to have beaten the defending champions in Season 81.

Game 1 is at Araneta Coliseum on Saturday.

"Close?" Diaz said with a laugh when informed of Alinsunurin's comments. "Parang lamang sila. In height, lamang sila."

Indeed, NU has one of the tallest teams in the league, anchored by Bryan Bagunas and towering middle blocker Kim Malabunga. Moreover, the Bulldogs have an edge in championship experience; after all, none of the Tamaraws have played in the finals before.

"Alam naman namin, alam ng players ko, alam ko na lamang sila. May napatunayan sila," Diaz acknowledged.

For Diaz, his team's advantage is in the intangibles. FEU is hungry, he sad, to end a 7-year title drought. They know NU is the taller team, but they vow to play with the greater heart.

"Talagang ang akin, ang baon ko, puso," said Diaz. "Ang kailangan lang naming gawin, is ibigay 'yung best namin."

"Siguro magiging advantage namin 'yung pagka-uhaw namin sa championship. 'Yun ang gagamitin naming advantage. Mas gugustuhin naming manalo sa Saturday," he added.

With that in mind, Diaz said he is confident that his team can get the job done. The Tamaraws already own a victory over the Bulldogs this season, after all, and he believes they can duplicate that. He and the FEU coaching staff have already invested their time in developing the Tamaraws, in creating strategies and game plans.

What's left is for his team to execute it.

"Eto na 'yung test ng character, foundation ng samahan, and yung inspirasyon, yung dedikasyon, at yung pagmamahal," Diaz said. "Dito mo na makikita talaga kung paano nila isho-showdown yung talents na natutunan nila sa amin, sa mga coaches."

For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.