MANILA, Philippines -- Patrick Tchuente was not even supposed to be in Far Eastern University's line-up for the UAAP Season 82 men's basketball tournament.
The Cameroonian center was included in the Tamaraws' roster, but only after Emman Ojoula of Nigeria was deemed ineligible.
His unlikely road to the UAAP has only fired up Tchuente to play at a high level for FEU. And on Wednesday against De La Salle University, he put together his best performance of the tournament so far.
Tchuente led FEU with 19 points on a highly-efficient 9-of-11 clip, while grabbing 11 rebounds and blocking two shots in just 24 minutes of action.
With him leading the way, and with Ino Comboy nailing the dagger shots in the fourth quarter, the Tams took a comfortable 66-55 triumph.
"I'm so happy for the win today," said Tchuente, who was limited to just one point and 8 rebounds in a 63-46 loss to Ateneo last Saturday.
"Coming from the loss, as coach said, we have to show the FEU community that we can do better and we're gonna stay focused and try to fight for the next game," he said.
Now averaging 9.25 points and 9.75 rebounds per game, Tchuente continues to be motivated by his late inclusion to the FEU roster, and having to battle for his place in the line-up.
"Yes, it's a source of motivation because I was not alone anymore, I had to fight for the spot," he said. "So it helped me a lot to grow and to be better."
FEU head coach Olsen Racela admitted that he has been tough on Tchuente through the tournament, as he has high expectations for the Cameroonian big man. Thus, to see his center come up with big plays on both ends of the floor against La Salle was a source of pride for the mentor.
"Ang role niya really is to protect the paint, neutralize the opposing team's import or foreign student-athlete, and I think he has been doing a good job of that," said Racela.
"But now, he did more. That's not going to happen every game eh, but just like to commend him for his effort every single day in practice," he added. "He welcomes all our comments and criticisms, and that's how you get better."
Tchuente will be challenged once more in FEU's next game, when they take a University of Santo Tomas team that is anchored by Beninese big man Soulemane Chabi Yo on Sunday.
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